By Edrissa Jallow, @EdrissaJallow10
The Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to The Gambia, Corrado Pampaloni has informed the Press that the EU has a strong commitment to supporting the government with other partners in establishing an international court for the trial of former President Yahya Jammeh.
Ambassador Pampaloni made this revelation on Wednesday 5th April 2023, during a press conference at the EU delegation to The Gambia headquarters. The presser aims to update the media after the European Union Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee’s engagement with the government and CSOs during its three-day working visit to The Gambia.
During the presser, our reporter questioned the Ambassador as well as the Chair of the EU Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, David McAllister who led the delegation of few other committee members, asking if the EU has any form of “mechanism or ideas in place to support the government in establishing the international court for the prosecution” of former President Jammeh?
In response, Ambassador Pampaloni disclosed that he “can only reiterate that we [EU] stand ready to step in with the other donors when the special prosecutor will be nominated…… But we have already decided that we will help the government”.
Former President Yahya Jammeh was indicted for hundreds of human rights violations that occurred under his leadership after overthrowing a democratically elected government in a coup back in 1994. Since his overthrow of the first President Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, former President Jammeh was found responsible for hundreds of human rights violations including enforced disappearances, torture and killing by the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission.
The Commission was enacted in 2017 after current President Adama Barrow’s government took over and established a public commission of Inquiry to investigate former President Jammeh who fled to exile in Equatorial Guinee after losing elections to President Barrow in late 2016.
According to EU Ambassador, the government has informed them that “the conference for the donors will be organized and that is where each one will receive his own task and we will follow the indication of the government”.
“We helped the government of Senegal organize and to pay for some of the expenditures [on the Hissène Habré trial] and we would do the same here together with the other donors,” says Ambassador Pampaloni.
According to Human Rights Watch Senegal requested approximately €27 million Euros as “its estimate of the costs, from the international community” to proceed with the Hissène Habré Trial. At the end of the trial, Habre was ordered to pay over $140 Million US Dollars as compensation to victims. However, he passed away in 2021 in Dakar and Justice Info add that “more than four years after the order, none of the victims had received any compensation”.
It’s left to be seen if The Gambia can extradite former President Jammeh from Equatorial Guinee and if his trial will even take place in The Gambia.
According to EU Officials, the mandate of the EU to The Gambia is to support the country’s Transitional Justice (TJ) process. This was echoed by the Chairperson of the EU Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee also revealed that the EU is committed to supporting the transitional justice process. “We [EU] are really ready to support the Gambia as a trusted partner and we will continue to do so,” says Chairperson MacAllister.