The year 2017 witnessed one of the most relevant political transformations in the contemporary history of The Gambia. After leading the country for almost 22 years under an autocratic rule, former president Yahya Jammeh lost the 2016 presidential elections against Adama Barrow. The new democratic administration is encouraging accountability mechanisms against perpetrators of crimes and violations of human rights under Jammeh’s rule, which were committed in an attempt to silence dissent, terrorize the political opposition and curtail the freedoms of Gambian citizens. Consequently, the new Government has announced the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to lead the transitional process.
In this context, fearing prosecution, some of the highest-ranking members of the former regime and its security or paramilitary forces have abandoned the Gambian territory and are currently absconding in foreign jurisdictions.
Guernica bets for the construction of a dual effort to promote transitional accountability in The Gambia.
First, our members have collaborated with members of the Gambian civil society to conceive a comprehensive and holistic strategy for transitional justice in the country that would unite the actions of civil society organizations and the Government. This strategy would include the establishment of a coalition of both national and international lawyers, researchers and other key members of the civil society to investigate and prosecute crimes committed during former President Jammeh’s dictatorial rule, as well as the provision of legal and technical assistance to institutional bodies, and the organization of specialized training programs.
Second, we are currently conducting investigations to identify and locate alleged perpetrators of crimes and human rights violations that have fled The Gambia, to either prosecute them in the countries where they are currently residing—following the principle of universal jurisdiction— or initiate judicial processes to ensure their extradition to The Gambia.