EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: Victims of Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh’s government and their supporters have reacted with indignation to a declaration by the president of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang Nguema that he would “protect” the exiled leader from justice.
“By what right can one dictator protect the other from justice?” Baba Hydara, son of Deyda Hydara, editor of The Point newspaper who was murdered in 2004 asked.
“Those of us whose relatives were killed, who were tortured or raped in prison, who were shot for peacefully demonstrating, who were forced into Jammeh’s phony HIV ‘treatment’ program, have a right to justice that will not be denied and we will fight however long it takes.”
Jammeh went into exile in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea last year following his loss of power to Adama Barrow in the country’s December 2016 presidential elections. In a January 17, 2018 interview with RFI and France 24, President Obiang said he had given no guarantees of Jammeh’s immunity and would “analyze any extradition request with his lawyers.”
After meeting with Guinea’s president Alpha Condé, who helped negotiate Jammeh’s departure from The Gambia, Obiang reversed himself on January 26 and said that “I agree with Condé.”
It is necessary to protect Yahya Jammeh, he must be respected as a former head of state in Africa because it is a guarantee that the other heads of state who must leave power should not be afraid of the harassment they may suffer later.”
In the meantime, President Adama Barrow said in several press interviews on January 25 that he was “more than willing” to open discussions about Jammeh’s extradition if that course was recommended by Gambia’s Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission which has been established by legislation.
“Presidents Obiang and Condé have no right to usurp the decision of the Gambian people as to whether Jammeh’s alleged crimes should be prosecuted,” Madi Jobarteh, Program Manager for the Association of NGOs in the Gambia (TANGO),” said. He said the African Union and ECOWAS should support their demands for justice, as they did in the Hissène Habré case, and not stand in their way.
The Campaign to bring Yahya Jammeh and his accomplices to justice, which brings together Gambian victims and national and international rights groups, said the 1984 UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which Equatorial Guinea ratified in 2002, obliges states to either prosecute or extradite alleged torturers who enter its territory.
On July 20, 2012, in a unanimous decision, the International Court of Justice ruled that because of this “no safe haven” provision in the torture convention, Senegal was obliged to prosecute or extradite Chad’s former dictator Hissène Habré, who was put on trial shortly thereafter.