Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has not met victims of his authoritarian predecessor seven months into his rule of mainland Africa’s smallest nation.
Barrow defeated the longtime President Yahya Jammeh in a surprising outcome to an election in December, partly on promises to end human rights violations and ensure justice for victims.
Jammeh jailed journalists and his opponents, some of whom died in prison, carried out hunts for people believed to be witches and executed his perceived enemies.
Jammeh’s victim united and opened a center, Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations to help secure justice for victims and their families.
They have repeatedly tried to meet the new Gambian leader but all efforts from the center did not give them the sit down they need to get a simple reassurance from Mr. Barrow.
“We want to put it on the record that, President Barrow has not met with the victims yet, even after multiple efforts from the center to his office and we continue to encourage him to do so as we believe the victims should be in the forefront of any discussions…,” the Center said.
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.
“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.
Gambia’s Attorney General Aboubacarr Ba Tambadou met with some of the victims at the launching of the Center and assured that those that there will be justice for all victims of Jammeh-era abuses.
Gambia’s government should act to prosecute those responsible for grave crimes committed during the 22-year rule of Yahya Jammeh, Human Rights Watch said.
Fair trials are crucial for victims and their families and for building respect for the rule of law in the country.
Gambia has been told to develop a strategy detailing how it intends to hold to account those implicated in the arbitrary arrests, torture, and enforced disappearances that were the hallmark of Jammeh’s rule.