EYEAFRICA TV: Malabo, Equatorial Guinea: The government of Equatorial Guinea has refused to serve legal papers on former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, who has been living in exile in Equatorial Guinea since January 2017.
“One ruthless dictator is protecting another ruthless dictator,” said Sarah Bosha, AIDS-Free World’s Legal and Research Advisor on HIV and Human Rights. “The international community must not stand silent in the face of such lawless behavior.”
The legal papers would formally notify Jammeh of a civil lawsuit filed in the High Court of The Gambia by three survivors of Jammeh’s fraudulent and destructive HIV and AIDS “Treatment Programme.”
The suit, which was filed in May 2018, is supported by AIDS-Free World in partnership with the Gambian-based Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA). Combeh Gaye of the Gambian law firm Antouman A.B. Gaye & Co. is representing the three claimants.
Jammeh was granted political asylum by Dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea’s ruler since seizing power in a bloody coup d’etat in 1979. Jammeh is reportedly living in a luxurious villa in eastern Equatorial Guinea as a guest of the regime.
On October 28, the government of The Gambia transmitted the notice of the civil suit and related documents to Equatorial Guinea’s embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from where they would be delivered to Jammeh.
The government of Equatorial Guinea responded to The Gambia on November 19, indicating that they could not serve Jammeh because he was “unavailable,” which represents an express refusal to serve the legal papers.
“We are determined to see Yahya Jammeh served,” said Oludayo Fagbemi, Legal Officer with IHRDA. “And we will. We are currently exploring further options.”
Bosha noted that the executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is planning to vote on December 18 on a US$280 million loan guarantee for Equatorial Guinea. A consortium of human rights and good governance organizations has called for a delay in the vote, citing the Obiang government’s endemic human rights abuses, corruption, and mismanagement.
“There are many reasons to delay the vote,” said Bosha. “This is another. The refusal to serve Yahya Jammeh offers stark proof that Equatorial Guinea refuses to follow international norms or respect the rights of Jammeh’s victims to justice.”
AIDS-Free World is also calling for the African Union to convene an emergency meeting to insist that Equatorial Guinea complete service of the papers.
The claimants are seeking damages for harm suffered and a declaration from the High Court that they suffered cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment at the hands of Jammeh.
Relative to other victims, the three were lucky to survive Jammeh’s abuses.
In 2007, after announcing that he could cure AIDS with a secret herbal concoction, Jammeh coerced and conscripted Gambians living with HIV to reside in a state facility under the surveillance of armed guards and to submit to his “treatment” regimen.
Many Gambians who entered Jammeh’s programme were members of HIV and AIDS support groups. Jammeh ordered his “patients” to cease taking antiretroviral drugs, an action that posed grave threats to their health. Instead, he had them drink herbal concoctions that often made them violently ill. He also slathered his concoctions on the patients’ partially nude bodies while chanting prayers.
Select “treatment sessions” were broadcast on Gambian television without the consent of the victims, some of whom hadn’t yet informed friends or family of their HIV status. Jammeh has no medical training. International health experts including some representatives of the UN roundly condemned his “cure” as quackery, but no efforts were made to stop him. The program ran from 2007 until 2016, when Jammeh lost a national election. After initially contesting the results of the election, Jammeh fled to Equatorial Guinea in January 2017.
“The action of Equatorial Guinea is another insult to the victims,” said Bosha. “But we are determined to see that Jammeh is brought to account.”
In addition to the civil lawsuit against Jammeh, the three survivors have asked authorities in The Gambia to revoke the licenses of two medical doctors who directed the “Treatment Programme.” The survivors have filed complaints with The Gambia Medical and Dental Council against Dr. Tamsir Mbowe and Dr. Malick Njie. The Council has yet to take action against the doctors, who are still practicing medicine in The Gambia.
Source: Aids Free World