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Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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The conviction ofOusman Sonko

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In the past few days, a Swiss Court has convicted Mr. Ousman Sonko, former Gambian minister of the Interior for crimes against humanity. The court handed down a twenty-year prison sentence to Mr Sonko for his involvement of crimes during the twenty-two-year dictatorship of Yahya Jammeh.

Many citizens of the Gambia, particularly the victims and their relatives, received this news with a sense of relief and satisfaction. To them, this may mean that they will now have some form of closure now that someone has been held accountable for the crimes against their loved ones. This may be a small step in the long road of seeking justice.

The verdict will undoubtedly embolden those individuals and organizations who have been working tirelessly to see to it that the perpetrators of crimes against Gambians will be tried and held accountable for their wrongdoings. To many of them, this will send a message that their efforts are not being wasted and that if they keep up the work, many, if not most, of the perpetrators will one day be brought to book.

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The verdict will also send a message to the perpetrators and would-be perpetrators that there is no place to hide from the long arms of justice. It may take a long time but the cold hands of justice will eventually catch up with them wherever they may be hiding. It should tell the people who hold power and positions of power that no matter what it takes; justice will always take its course.

The part of the recommendations of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) which call for the prosecution of those who bear the most responsibility of crimes will now begin to see the light of day. There is talk of establishing a hybrid court in the Gambia to conduct these trials and this verdict will give it the necessary impetus to carry on.

Accountability is an integral part of peace building and if any society truly wishes to establish and maintain peace, then it must ensure that perpetrators of crimes are held accountable and given appropriate punishments not only to deter others but to give the victims closure. This will also give the general public the ability to believe that they can go about their daily lives without the fear that someone will just come and violate their rights.

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All in all, this is a good verdict for the victims, their families and indeed the entire nation.

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