Following the release of an indictment report by the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission, Femi Falana, a Nigerian human rights lawyer, has called on the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to expedite the prosecution of The Gambia’s former dictator, Yahya Jammeh (TRCC).
According to the report, President Adama Barrow’s commission found the former president guilty of wrongdoing during his tenure in office after hearing from nearly 400 witnesses. “Yahya Jammeh and… co-perpetrators committed very serious crimes against the people of The Gambia over a 22-year period, beginning on July 22, 1994,” according to the TRCC report. Following the publication of this report, the Gambian government stated that a white paper would be released on or before May 25, 2022.
“In light of the fact that the victims were not only Gambian nationals, the Commission recommends that a special international court be established to try Jammeh and others in West Africa, but outside of Gambia,” Falana said in response to the report’s details. For the sake of Jammeh’s victims, I demand that the African Union (AU) and the United Nations take immediate and effective steps to ensure that Mr Jammeh and senior members of his government are extradited to Senegal and brought before the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegalese courts.”
“I believe the recommended trial will not necessitate separate structures and institutions,” he said. The AU leaders do not have to reinvent the wheel now that the Extraordinary African Chambers exist. It would save time and resources if Mr Jammeh and others were extradited right away and brought before the Chambers. The statute gives the Chambers jurisdiction over crimes against humanity and torture, as defined by the statute. The definitions of these crimes are generally similar to those used by the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute and other international tribunals.”
“Mr Jammeh will be guaranteed his right to a fair trial before the Extraordinary Chambers, including those guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which Senegal has ratified. These human rights treaties spell out the minimum protections that must be provided to criminal defendants.” He went on to say.
The lawyer went on to explain the composition of the Extraordinary African Chambers in order to show that it was qualified to hear Jammeh’s case. The chambers are divided into four levels, according to him: an Investigative Chamber with four investigative judges, an Indicting Chamber with three judges, a Trial Chamber, and an Appeals Chamber. Two Senegalese judges serve in the Trial Chamber, and a President from another African Union member state serves in the Appeals Chamber. An administrator is also employed by the chambers to ensure that their operations run smoothly and to handle all non-judicial aspects of their work.”
“The victims of Jammeh must be allowed to participate in the proceedings as civil parties.” If he is found guilty of the charges, the victims of his crimes must be provided with adequate compensation and reparations, as well as a guarantee of non-repetition.” He made a suggestion.
This isn’t the first time Falana has called for Yahya Jammeh’s prosecution; in 2019, the lawyer urged the International Criminal Court to prosecute the former president. “The ICC cannot continue to turn a blind eye to atrocities committed by the regime of former President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia,” he said in a keynote address at a meeting of the African Network on International Criminal Justice in Dakar, Senegal. “The Prosecutor should open an investigation into them under the Rome Statute without further delay,” he said.