Nigerian lawyer, Femi Falana urges AU and UN to expedite Jammeh’s prosecution

Nigerian Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has called on the Africa Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to expedite the prosecution of The Gambia’s former dictator, Yahya Jammeh following an indictment report released by the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRCC).

In the said report, the commission which was established by President Adama Barrow found the former president guilty of wrongdoing during his years of leadership after listening to nearly 400 witnesses. “Over a period of 22 years, starting from July 22, 1994, Yahya Jammeh and … co-perpetrators committed very serious crimes against the people of The Gambia,” the TRCC report said. Following this report, the Gambian government promised to release a white paper on or before May 25, 2022.

However, Falana who was reacting to the details of the report said, “In view of the fact that the victims were not only Gambian nationals, the Commission recommends that a special international court be set up to try Jammeh and others in West Africa, but outside of Gambia. I call on the leadership of the African Union (AU) and the United Nations to take immediate and effective measures to ensure that Mr Jammeh and senior members of his government are extradited to Senegal to face trial before the Extraordinary African Chambers in the Senegalese courts, for the sake of Jammeh’s victims.”

He said he, “believe that the recommended trial will not require separate structures and institutions. With the existence of the Extraordinary African Chambers, the AU leaders do not have to reinvent the wheel. Immediately extraditing Mr Jammeh and others to face trial before the Chambers would save time and resources. The Chambers’ statute gives it competence over crimes against humanity and torture as defined in the statute. The definitions of these crimes generally mirror those used in the Rome Stature of the International Criminal Court and other international tribunals.”

“Mr Jammeh will be entitled to his fair trial rights before the Extraordinary Chambers, including those guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights both of which Senegal has ratified. These human rights treaties outline the minimum guarantees that must be afforded to defendants in criminal proceedings.” He added.

The lawyer further explained the composition of the Extraordinary African Chambers to prove its competence to adjudicate Jammeh’s case. According to him, the chambers have “four levels an Investigative Chamber with four investigative judges, an Indicting Chamber of three judges, a Trial Chamber, and an Appeals Chamber. The Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber each have two Senegalese Judges and a President from another African Union member state. The chambers also have an administrator to ensure the smooth functioning of their activities and to handle all non-judicial aspects of the work.”

“Jammeh’s victims must be afforded the opportunity to participate in proceedings as civil parties. Should he be convicted of the charges against him, the victims of his crimes must receive adequate compensation, and reparations, including guarantee of non-repetition.” He suggested.

This is not the first time Falana is calling for the prosecution of Yahya Jammeh; in 2019, the lawyer called on the ICC to prosecute the former president. “The ICC cannot continue to turn a blind eye to atrocities committed by the regime of former president Yahya Jammeh of Gambia the Prosecutor should open an investigation into them under the Rome Statute without any further delay,” he said in a keynote address at a meeting by the African Network on International Criminal Justice held in Dakar, Senegal.

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