Gambia: IHRDA Set to Document, Litigate Cases of Extrajudicial Killings

18 November 2019

Gaye Sowe, executive director of Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) has said that IHRDA under its combating impunity for enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings initiative intends to document ten cases enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings and litigate five of them.

However, Mr. Sowe added that this will depend on what comes out of the transitional justice process.

Executive Director Sowe made these remarks last Friday at Metzy Hotel during the opening of a-two-day training workshop for 35 members of The Gambia Bar Association under the framework of IHRDA's initiative in combating impunity for enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings.

He pointed out that there were very serious human rights violations during the Jammeh era, adding that transitional justice processes put in place has gone very far in getting to the bottom of what happened during Jammeh's regime.

He noted that after documenting the cases, they also intend to prepare a report and send it to the UN working group on enforced disappearance as well as the African Commission on Human and People's Rights so that they can join their fight in making sure enforced disappearance or extrajudicial killing that occurred in The Gambia are properly dealt with.

According to him, litigation could involve criminal prosecution.

He highlighted that the aim of the training is to contribute to the fight against impunity, increase access to justice to victims of enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings, to build and enhance capacities of participants on the existing local, regional and international frameworks and how to deal with enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings.

Salieu Taal, president, Gambia Bar Association, remarked that state securities were used as instruments of oppression during Jammeh's 22-year dictatorship regime against civilians and non-civilians as well as enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings as order of the day.

He observed that every Gambian who woke up in those days could disappear or die and could do nothing about it.

Mr. Taal highlighted that it is important for lawyers to have the capacity, knowledge and knowhow as well as play a critical role in ensuring impunity is in our past.

"Going forward we cannot allow impunity to reign in our country again," he added.

Enya Braun, representing the European Union, said the idea behind the workshop was to lay the ground work ahead of what is to come.

She expressed EU's commitment to continue supporting Gambia's transitional process. "It is now or never for The Gambia," she concluded.

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