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ICC ‘communicating’ With Ex-dictator Jammeh

Former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the country with an iron fist for 22 years, is in touch with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in relation to allegations of human rights violations against him. 

It is reported that the ICC, which celebrated its 20th anniversary on Friday, was acting on recommendations by the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC). In an interesting twist, the notorious dictator withdrew the West African nation from the ICC fearing that he would be a target of future prosecution.

It has also been reported by Legal Brief that Jammeh is accused of having stolen millions of dollars from the country’s coffers to fund a life of luxury. After leaving office, his assets were frozen by many countries and he went into exile in Equatorial Guinea.

In addition to charges of corruption and human rights violations, he is also accused of having raped several young women. The Gambian Government has made it clear that Jammeh cannot benefit from the immunity provisions of the Constitution for the crimes he has been alleged to have committed while in power. The 1997 Constitution, which is still the supreme law of The Gambia, has it that no member of the defunct Armed Force Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) shall be held ‘liable or answerable before a court or authority or under this Constitution or any other law, either jointly or severally, for an act or omission in the performance of his or her official duties.’ 

However, the TRRC has recommended that Jammeh be banned for life and prosecuted after the commission received evidence of gross extrajudicial killings, tortures, and other crimes allegedly committed under Jammeh’s instructions.

Information gathered by The Point following reports that the ICC is pursuing the former dictator revealed the ICC is gathering and compiling evidence and identifying all the suspects for the court to investigate and prosecute Jammeh. The government has also accepted to prosecute other persons listed for their complicity in committing crimes, subject to the granting of amnesty that the amnesty committee may recommend.

Full report in The PointThe ‘Jammeh2Justice’ campaign, made up of victims of the former regime and Gambian and international activists, has also called on The Gambian Government to take concrete steps to bring Jammeh and his alleged accomplices to justice. 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it welcomed and saluted the government’s acceptance of the TRRC’s recommendations and in particular its commitment to prosecute Jammeh and his accomplices. ‘We had hoped that the government would provide greater clarity and detail on the judicial framework it intends to create for those prosecutions.

Since 2019, the Gambia Bar Association has led a series of multi-stakeholder consultations which proposed a “hybrid” court, anchored on a treaty with Ecowas, with Gambian and international staff, with a much greater role for victims than under the current Gambian system, and with the possibility of detaining suspects and holding trials outside of The Gambia. Whatever path the government chooses, however, laws still have to be enacted, the judicial framework has to be established, cases have to be prepared, and Yahya Jammeh has to be extradited,’ HRW said in a statement.

HRW statement And Voice Gambia reports that leading lawyer Lamin Darboe recently urged the Barrow-led government to use diplomatic powers to get Jammeh tried.‘The government will have to use its diplomatic powers out of the country if they want to prosecute Jammeh in this country,’ Darboe said. He noted that The Gambia would not have the financial resources ‘so what is going to happen there is that the government would trigger its diplomatic powers and liaise with the UN, other countries, and international countries and agencies that would want to participate in funding this process’.

Culled from Legal brief ICC ‘communicating’ with ex-dictator Jammeh

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