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The Gambia will prosecute former President Yahya Jammeh for a series of crimes committed during his decades-long regime, a decision that many human rights advocates and victims described as “unprecedented,” Al Jazeera reported Thursday.
The Gambian government said this week that it accepted all but two of the 265 recommendations made by the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission. The commission was set up to investigate alleged crimes, including murder, torture and rape, perpetrated during Jammeh’s rule between July 1994 and January 2017.
The commission’s report – which has been delayed twice – was based on years of witness testimonies. It recommended the prosecution of 70 alleged perpetrators, including Jammeh and former Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy.
Officials said they are now working on creating a prosecution strategy and would set up a special court located within The Gambia, with the option of holding proceedings in other countries.
Jammeh left The Gambia in early 2017 after losing the presidential elections to the current president, Adama Barrow, and following a six-week crisis that led to military intervention by other West African states.
He is currently living in exile in Equatorial Guinea, which has no extradition treaty with The Gambia.
The government’s decision took many survivors and their victims’ families by surprise, with some noting that the “level of acceptance of recommendations by the government is extraordinary.”
Still, others wondered whether Barrow will follow through.
The incumbent, re-elected in December, created a political partnership with Jammeh’s previous party last year and chose two known Jammeh supporters as speaker and deputy speaker of parliament.