In the wake of the decision on Thursday by an Appeal Court in Senegal to uphold the sentencing to life imprisonment of former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre, calls are intensifying for Gambia’s longtime ruler to be held accountable for the serious crimes committed under his presidency. Authorities are now facing a rising demand for justice and many voices are now calling for an indictment to be launched against Yahya Jammeh, who is enjoying a life of golden exile in Equatorial Guinea.
“Yahya Jammeh doesn’t deserve freedom,” Ebrima Solo Sandeng’s junior brother Kebba told this reporter.
The dramatic events of April 14, 2016 that led to the arrest and death in custody of United Democratic Party (UDP) youth leader was the catalyst provoking the democratic movement that put an end to the Jammeh regime. The protest march for electoral reforms he and other protesters had helped to reinvigorate national concerns about the need to stand up againstspearhea arbitrary. Over these past hundred days of Adama Barrow’s presidency, Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year ‘reign of terror’ is being increasingly exposed, and have sparked many reactions from victims’ families urging the transition government to join push for his prosecution by the Hague-based court.
Kebba Sandeng said there is high probability to believe that the horrific crimes of the former regime have to do with Yahya Jammeh ‘s plans to remain in power by all means.
Similar concerns were also expressed by Mohamed Sandeng who reiterated the need to provide justice for all the victims of Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year rule.
Under the Jammeh regime, the quest for justice was something impossible to imagine as authorities were ready to crackdown on dissent in criminalizing any attempt to stage a protest. President Adama Barrow has vowed to right the wrongs of the past in announcing the setting up of a truth and reconciliation commission and expressed his readiness to offer reparations to victims. But the quest for justice seems to transcend the issue of reconciliation as a major part of peace.
Abdoulie Bojang, who lost his son Lamin Bojang during the sad events of April 10 -11, 2000 that had left at least 14 students dead. “There cannot be peace without justice,” Bojang said while insisting that only justice can help to bring back trust in the country’s institutions.
He said many of them went through a difficult situation of having their voices suppressed by Yahya Jammeh. “We were even denied the right to remember them!” he exclaimed.
Aja Yassin Jobe, mother of Cpt Njaga Jagne killed during the December 30 attack, also re-echoed similar sentiments as she explained how her grandson was paralyzed when he was struck by a bullet during the students demonstration of April 2000.
“Those behind this act should face justice. Yahya Jammeh cannot go scot-free,” she said while exhibiting the portraits of her loved ones.
In a report released Mid-April, Human Rights Watch urged Gambian authorities to prosecute those linked with serious crimes committed during the 22-year rule of Yahya Jammeh.
“Fair trials are crucial for victims and their families and for building respect for the rule of law in the country,” said Human Rights Watch.
Written by Abdoulie JOHN