Released opposition leader Ousainou Darboe, a frontrunner of the country’s Attorney General said Monday that a president may not be prosecuted for decisions he made while in office, after his release from prison.
The Gambia’s constitution says no court may entertain any action against a former president in any civil proceedings in respect of any act done in his or her official capacity as President and that a criminal court shall only have jurisdiction to entertain proceedings against him or her in respect of acts or omissions alleged to have been perpetrated by him or her while holding office as President if the National Assembly has resolved on a motion supported by not less than two-thirds of all the members that such proceedings are justified in the public interest.
Darboe called for a truth and reconciliation commission, citing South Africa as an example of how to heal the people of The Gambia.
Activists are demanding the prosecution of President Yahya Jammeh and his associates. Jammeh has been accused of maiming, killing, torturing and detaining incommunicado his political opponents, activists, and journalists.
UN has accused Jammeh of extensive rights violations and many political detainees are routinely held in clandestine detention facilities.
Human Rights Watch said since taking power in 1994, President Yahya Jammeh has ruled Gambia with often-ruthless repression of dissent, a tight clamp on virtually all independent media, and the use of state security forces and shadowy paramilitary groups to intimidate and silence all deemed critics of the government.
“The population lives in a climate of fear in which government justice and accountability for abuses are utterly beyond reach,” a report from the watchdog said.
“For many years the people of Gambia have suffered numerous abuses, including horrific human rights violations and oppression,” said Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International West Africa researcher. “There is a huge obligation now for the future administration to transform the human rights situation in Gambia.”