An organization has been launched Wednesday to unite victims of Gambia’s ousted ruler’s regime, who are seeking redress from the West African nation’s new government for human rights abuses.
Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations was created after a support group for the many victims of the regime with their families met with a similar organization that helped secure justice for the victims of Chad’s former dictator, Hissène Habré.
“The objectives of the center is to provide a safe environment that will help victims of human rights violations and their families get the truth, justice, and where applicable reparation,” said Maila Touray, Chairperson of the organization.
According to Touray, they will seek to collaborate with government, national, and international agencies in providing other needed services and securing justice for victims of human rights violations.
“The center will facilitate provision of counseling and medical services to victims of gender-based crimes, torture, rape, murder, wrongful imprisonment, and disappearances committed by the Jammeh government,” said Touray.
“We are asking justice for the victims.”
Many of Jammeh’s victims have been calling for the prosecution of those implicated in committing human rights abuses for Jammeh.
Rights campaigners support the calls of the victims, saying: Gambia’s new government should act to prosecute those responsible for grave 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.
“All Gambians deserve to see justice for the terrible crimes committed during Jammeh’s rule,” said Jim Wormington, West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The new government needs to identify the concrete steps it will take to investigate past abuses and ensure fair trials.”
The former autocratic ruler oversaw two decades of repression against the Gambian people. Rights group accused Jammeh of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and torture against those who voiced opposition to his government.
Barrow defeated Jammeh in the December 2016 elections and was sworn in on January 19, two days before Jammeh finally stepped down under threat of a regional military intervention. Jammeh went into exile in Equatorial Guinea.
Since taking office, Barrow’s government has released dozens of political prisoners and has reversed Gambia’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.
Barrow has promised that victims of the Jammeh era will “get justice.” But while the government has announced plans for a truth and reconciliation commission, it has yet to say how it will conduct judicial investigations into past crimes.