Recent talks have resurfaced about the possibility or otherwise of former President Yahya Jammeh’s return to The Gambia. The apparent reason seems to be that incumbent Adama Barrow wants to win over his support base for the forthcoming presidential polls. Are you surprised at the turn of events, and do you think this could jeopardize efforts to bring Jammeh to justice for the atrocities committed by him and under his watch?
There has been a lot of speculation about Jammeh’s return and a possible compromise with the incumbent or even other political parties. I am not entirely surprised, as politicians are typically driven by their political interests, and the vast majority of politicians will happily align themselves with APRC, which is effectively Jammeh’s party, and they are still fiercely loyal to him.
This makes any political alliance or association with APRC by any political party problematic given their position on the TRRC and transitional Justice mechanism, which they do not recognize. Notwithstanding, Jammeh will be held accountable for his serious human rights violations committed against Gambians and other ECOWAS nationals already exposed at the TRRC. No political alliance would provide Jammeh or any of his accomplices immunity or protection from prosecution.
By going to exile in Equatorial Guinea, which is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, Yahya Jammeh seems to have scored a goal in delaying his prosecution, do you somehow think it would be a mistake for him to consider returning to The Gambia, which is an ICC member state, and from where he could potentially be extradited to face justice?
believe Jammeh’s choice of Equatorial Guinea as his temporary sanctuary is a well-calculated move on his part. It’s just a matter of time but the long arm of justice will reach Jammeh in due course and maybe sooner than later.
As a Gambian citizen he is surely entitled to return to the country but whether it will be a mistake to return or not depends on his expectations. I believe Jammeh will be prosecuted either in The Gambia or
another country after the TRRC completes its findings.
It is highly improbable that Jammeh will be tried by the ICC for many reasons. I believe a hybrid court vested with the appropriate jurisdiction will be a more appropriate option to deal with the prosecution of Jammeh and any other persons recommended for prosecution by the TRRC.
In fact, do you think, even in the worst-case scenario, that Adama Barrow or The Gambia have any real
powers to shield Yahya Jammeh from justice given that his crimes have been shown to have an international element and that countries like Ghana and Nigeria may seek to have him tried for crimes against their citizens?
I cannot imagine President Barrow exercising any power to shield Jammeh from prosecution after the TRRC recommends his prosecution given the incriminating testimonies at the TRRC. In the unlikely event that the Gambia decides not to prosecute Jammeh however, the victims can have recourse for redress in other jurisdictions or mechanisms outside Gambia.
The fact that some of the victims are from other ECOWAS countries has surely internationalised the crimes committed purportedly on the instructions of Jammeh
Is it possible, given your experience and insights into this topic, that by teasing the topic of his return, Yahya Jammeh and his henchmen are simply playing on the minds of their supporters and seeking to prove that the ex-president is not in a vulnerable/helpless situation and that he still has the powers to exercise his choice to return, when in actual fact, he does not?
Jammeh, as a citizen can come back to Gambia. However, the law will take its course if or when he comes to The Gambia. He will be held accountable.
Having read quite a number of your interviews on this topic, you seem to have a sense of finality that
Jammeh will certainly be brought to justice at some point. Is this assessment correct?
Yes, I strongly believe Jammeh will be brought to justice no matter how long it takes. We should remember that he was not the only perpetrator of these heinous crimes against the victims although he was the mastermind of the whole scheme. It may well be that he will probably be the last to be tried due to the challenges of getting him extradited from Equatorial Guinea under their current government.
I believe that the prosecution of Jammeh will bring closure and give a sense of finality to the victims
and Gambians; it will close a dark chapter in our country’s history
agree with Reed, it would not be prudent and in fact risky to try Jammeh in The Gambia as it can potentially destabilise the country and even the subregion. The country is very polarised and divided. Our security sector has not undergone the required reforms and changes as expected, so it would be too risky to try Jammeh under the current security environment.
The findings of the Jammeh Commission against Jammeh were very damning and I believe the TRRC will
recommend for his prosecution. I cannot imagine Jammeh making a comeback after all he has subjected The Gambia to in his 22
Published on May 17, 2021