Gambia’s Plans to Prosecute Jammeh Are Sparking New Hopes for Justice

Gambia’s Plans to Prosecute Jammeh Are Sparking New Hopes for Justice
A man holds a banner as Gambians cheers in Serrekunda, Gambia, Jan. 19, 2017 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

BANJUL, Gambia—The Gambian government’s announcement last week that it will prosecute exiled former President Yahya Jammeh for a wide range of atrocities committed under his rule offers new hope to his victims for justice and closure. The announcement, made in a white paper, was the government’s formal response to the recommendations of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, or TRRC, which were delivered in November 2021.

The TRRC was launched in 2018 to hear cases and compile an impartial record of alleged human rights violations and abuses between 1994 and 2017, when Jammeh had ruled Gambia with an iron fist. From January 2019 to May 2021, it heard testimony from at least 392 witnesses, including victims, experts and confessed perpetrators of various crimes. All told, the commission documented at least 230 deaths and 122 cases of torture at the hands of Jammeh’s regime, as well as multiple cases of rape and disappearance by state agents, the majority of them on Jammeh’s orders.

When the commission submitted its final report containing its recommendations to the presidency last year, Amnesty International warned that the document “must give way to an unequivocal commitment from the Gambian authorities that justice and reparations will finally be delivered to the victims.”

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