How Long Will It Take Mrs. Bensouda To Bring Yaya Jammeh To Face Charges Of Crimes Against Humanity At The ICC In The Hague? The Truth Have Been Revealed And The Evidences Are Overwhelming.
Mrs. Fatou Bensouda at the inauguration of the TRRC- October 2018
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Gambian-born Mrs. Fatou Bum Bensouda, who once faithfully served as director of prosecution and Minister of Justice during the first six years of dictatorial rule in the Gambia, was accused of defending the actions of Yaya Jammeh by two victims who were tortured and wrongfully detained under Jammeh’s regime. They implicated Mrs.Bensouda in their sworn statements at the TRRC for the ordeal they went through under Yaya Jammeh.
The testimonies of Batch Samba Jallow and Sainey Faye before the TRRC, plus the startling revelations this week by three members of Jammeh’s killing squad who confessed to carrying out or participating in more than 50 killings on orders from Jammeh, warrant sufficient gravity to justify the attention of the International Criminal Court.
It is undeniable that the revelations made thus far by those in the killer squad for Jammeh including strangulation, butchering and point-blank range shooting of innocent victims then using abandoned wells as grave for those murdered, make a good case to prosecute Jammeh for crimes against humanity at the ICC.
Although, many African presidents see the court as an instrument of Western colonialism, a viewpoint summed up by the Gambia’s then Information Minister during the reign of Jammeh, Sheriff Bojang (Snr.), who reportedly described the ICC “an international Caucasian court for the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans”; the growing disaffection with the ICC in Africa has more to do with the moral rectitude of the prosecutor weakened by her failure to criticize the dictatorship she had previously served.
During her interview with journalist Tim Sebastian in January 2016, Mrs. Bensouda was pressured to denounce human rights violations in the country, she replied “ I am not going to make statements on political issues that are happening in countries.” When reminded by the journalist that what Jammeh was doing in the country was torture, killings and abuse of people’s rights; she replied “ is it crimes that fall within my jurisdiction?” It is because of her reluctance to condemn the various atrocities committed by her former boss that many Gambians found it particularly inappropriate to inaugurate the TRRC.
Alternatively, a special tribunal could be set up, located in another country to give it a semblance of independence, where all the crimes committed by Jammeh including the summary killings of 50 Ghanaians migrants whose only crime was to stray into the Gambian waters on their way to Europe and the murders of Saul Ndow, Mahawa Cham, and the two Gambian-American citizens who were killed in Kanilai and their bodies were butchered into pieces like meat under the orders of Yaya Jammeh.
It is a fact that 3 of the members of the TRRC legal team have either worked with or under Mrs. Bensouda and many are now casting doubt whether the ICC prosecutor will ever be invited to answer charges made by Batch Samba Jallow and Sainey Faye at the TRRC. In her statement during the inauguration of the TRRC, Mrs. Bensouda said and I paraphrase “”In order for the country to move forwards to greater heights, it must reckon with its past. It must engage in a good faith effort to uncover past wrongs. It must identify and hold those accountable, provide the answers and indeed the recognition and justice that victims and affected communities so deeply earned for and desired.” And she concluded firmly: “Accountability begins at home.”
The serious human rights violations committed under the regime of Yaya Jammeh between July 1994 and January 2017 which included systematic torture, illegal detentions under inhuman conditions, extrajudicial killings in the most horrendous form and the use of force to extract confessions, no doubt fit the definition of crimes against humanity. There is a crucial need to focus on the interest of the victims and their families who are at the center of the TRRC process. Peace and reconciliation can only be achieved if their justice. The justice conundrum at TRRC is worsened by the reluctance and silence of the ICC prosecutor to hold Yaya Jammeh accountable.
Once served under a regime in which the judicial system was marked by multiple and serious violations of the law, the systematic practice of torture, the fabrication of evidence, illegal detentions, enforced disappearances and deaths in custody, this is an opportune moment for Mrs. Fatou Bum Bensouda to show the whole world her drive for equity and true justice in the execution of her job as the ICC Chief Prosecutor. The ball is now in her court!