Victims say Ecowas involvement will hasten Jammeh to court

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By Omar Bah

The chairman of the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violation has welcomed the government’s decision to engage Ecowas on establishing a hybrid court to prosecute Jammeh-era crimes.

The Minister of Justice was in Abuja, Nigeria yesterday to engage the Ecowas Commission president, Omar A Touray on the need to establish a hybrid court.

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Reacting to this development, Sheriff Kijera said the move is welcomed and it is in the right direction.

“We know that an Ecowas-backed court will provide a leverage for the extraction of former President Yahya Jammeh which is very important. Secondly, a hybrid court has a lot of advantages, especially the will to go after criminals like Yahya Jammeh and some of his henchmen who are within the subregion,” Kijera told The Standard.

He said the victims can only commend the government for taking that bold decision and initiative to put in mechanisms that are going to facilitate the prosecution of Jammeh and all those who bear the greatest responsibility in crimes committed during his time.

“It also means they are taking these things seriously but also the government should have a roadmap and put in place the necessary mechanisms, procedures and processes that will usher us in a very competent and fair judicious accountability mechanism,” he added.

However, Mr Kijera added: “What is more important in this process is for the ministry of justice to provide a roadmap as to how they are going to implement the TRRC recommendations especially the post TRRC prosecutions and all the other implementation processes of the TRRC report.”

He said the victims centre is aware that the government is engaging Ecowas to create a pathway in the process of establishing a hybrid court to try crimes under the Jammeh administration.

He said now that the National Human Rights Commission has launched a monitoring committee for the implementation of the TRRC recommendations, a roadmap from the government on how it intends to implement the recommendations will be helpful.

“We also understand that the ministry is about to appoint a Special Adviser to the Attorney General for the establishment of the Special Prosecution Unit that is going to investigate and put in place mechanisms for the prosecution of crimes,” he stated.

Kijera said the government should ensure that the prosecution unit and all units created for the implementation of the TRRC recommendations are independent and autonomous from any executive interference.

“That will engender more confidence in the processes trying the international crimes under the hybrid court,” he added.

Concerns

Mr Kijera said despite the recent gains, the victims are very worried about the trajectory of the Barrow administration especially with its recent appointments of Jammeh enablers and loyalists.

“If Fabakary Tombong Jatta and Seedy Njie can be nominated as National Assembly members and respectively Speaker and Deputy Speaker – then any Jammeh enabler or perpetrator can be appointed by Adama Barrow to become the next Attorney General or even the Chief Justice.”

This, Kijera added, is the very reason why the institutions that are going to be responsible for the implementation of the TRRC recommendation should be independent.