SONKO CASE: VOICES OF THE VICTIMS
The Attorney General of Switzerland has heard two victims in the investigation against Ousman Sonko. The former Gambian Minister of Interior is suspected of crimes against humanity.
It took Destiny (real name withheld) more than ten years to file a complaint against Ousman Sonko. A victim of torture in Gambia, she was finally able to testify before the Attorney General of Switzerland last week in Bern.
“I was so relieved when I learned about Ousman Sonko’s arrest”, says Destiny. “I really hoped I could take part in the proceedings. This case is my first occasion to tell my story. I need justice for closure.”
Another victim has also travelled from Gambia to testify. He too was tortured when the suspect was at the head of security services.
“These people have suffered in silence for years”, says Philip Grant, Director of TRIAL International. “The Gambian judiciary is still fragile. For these victims, the opening of a trial in Switzerland would be a unique occasion to get justice.”
Other victims may be heard in the future by the Attorney General of Switzerland, who has been conducting a meaningful investigation since Sonko’s arrest in January 2017 (see “The case at a glance” below).
WHY IS SWITZERLAND COMPETENT?
Ousman Sonko is prosecuted in Switzerland on the basis of universal jurisdiction, which requires Swiss authorities to investigate suspects of torture and crimes against humanity on its territory.
At the moment, no extradition request has emanated from Gambian authorities. They have expressed their willingness to collaborate to the Swiss investigations.