OPINION: Ending Impunity

Friday, August 11, 2017

The seemingly long road to end culture of impunity in the country and even possibly beyond, has been drawn with filing of charges and issuant of arrest warrant for former officials of the Jammeh regime, perceived to have caused serious atrocities in the country.

The decision by the Office of the Inspector General of Police, through the police prosecution unit, led by Inspector Saja Sanyang at the Banjul magistrates’ Court presided over by Isatou Janneh-Njie, has effectively started the course to justice for victims of the alleged culprits some of whom now lives in exile spread in various countries in various capacities.

However, the arrest warrant issued made provisions for arrest and surrender of the accused persons wherever they may be to the court, preferably the High Court for trial as it’s the court with jurisdiction for determination of the charges pressed against them.

This begs the question as to how the accused persons clearly known to be now living in exile could be arrested and surrender to the High Court of The Gambia, for the fact that the arrest warrant in issued did not spelt out how they ought to be brought before the court or does it mean procedures to that effect has been made with relevant authorities at both domestic and international level.

This invoked the issue of the need for Gambia to have extradition treaty with countries for the arrest and extradition of the accused persons concerned.  The use of International Police Service called ‘’INTERPOLL’’ could be another effective methods at the disposal of the court and the country in general, towards putting an end to the culture of impunity. That is for the accused persons to be tried and prove their innocence or guilt, in line with their fundamental rights under both domestic and international laws (presumption of innocence).

Moreover, extraditing fugitives of law is more acceptable and preferred than the use of kidnapping and abduction from the host country.  Such practices are not accepted in what many called ‘Modern globalised world’ as it did not only undermine the territorial independence and sovereignty of the victim state, but also violation of Vienna Convention on Law of treaty.

Extradition means giving or handing over a person from host state to requesting state for the purpose of criminal trial or punishment, which he/she is alleged to have committed. Different countries have various policies and laws governing such extradition, depending on the nature and circumstances of the case involved.

Generally most countries across the globe consider some of the following issues before extraditing an individual or group accused therein;

That whether the extradition documents are in order, whether the person named in the extradition request is the person charged with the crime, whether the person has been charged with a crime in the requesting state, whether the person is a fugitive from the requesting state among other issues are usually examined for consideration.

We hope such outlined procedures are observed in the case at hand, as far as the desire to achieve objectives of ending impunity in the country is concerned.

The Alleged offenders included;

Set one; Ousman Sonko-former Minister of Interior, Lt Yusupha Sanneh, Sgt Sainey Jammeh Aka Chess, Saikou Jallow, Lt Micheal Sang Correa, Captain Micheal Jatta, Major Sanna Manjang, Major Mustapha Sanneh and Borra Colley.

They were alleged to have in the year 2006 in Foni, West Region of the Gambia, within the jurisdiction of the court,  murdered the following persons;

Daba Marena- former Director General of defunct National Intelligence Agency (NIA) now State Intelligence Service (SIS), Manlafi Corr- member of the Gambia Armed Forces, Ebou Lowe- Member of the said Armed Forces, Alieu Ceesay-also member of the said Armed Forces, Alpha Bah-also member of the said Armed Forces, one Julia and Masireh Jammeh-believed to be step sister of former president Jammeh.

The accused persons were also alleged to have taken part in the murder of Deyda Hydara, co-founder and managing editor of The Point Newspaper in December, 2004. The Magistrate was said to have in addition to issuant of arrest warrant, made an order instructing the police and  all security apparatus in the country to arrest the accused persons  wherever  they may be and produce them before the court to stand trial. The general public is also assigned to report the sighting of any of the accused persons to the nearest police station for their immediate arrest.

Set two; Sanna Manjang and Kawsu Camara (Bombardeir), were alleged to have killed journalist Deyda Hydara, co-founder and managing editor of the Point Newspaper, in December 2004, by shooting him with a gun on his forehead

The charge sheet alleged among others that the accused persons committed the said offence, while  working under the Gambia Armed Forces during the former regime of Yahya Jammeh, hence the Magistrate  made an ordered for them to be arrested anywhere they might be and be brought to The Gambia to face justice.

Set three;  Lt. Col Nuha Badjie, Major Momodou Jarju, Captain Michael Jatta, WO1 Fans Nyabally, Staff Sergeant Sulayman Sambou, WO2 Malick Manga and Corporal Saikouba Jarju, all members of the Gambia Armed Forces, were alleged to have in 2013, murdered Col; Ndure Cham- former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) of the Gambia Armed Forces.

Particulars of offence in count one stated that, the eight accused persons in the year 2013, at Tintinba Forest in Foni, West Coast Region of the Republic of The Gambia, unlawfully conspired amongst themselves to wit murder; thereby committed an offence.

Particulars in Count two reads;  the eight accused sometimes in the year 2013, in  the cited place and region, with malice  aforethought, jointly  and  unlawfully caused the  death of  Col;  Ndure Cham by shooting him with a gun and buried his  carcass at Tintinba  Forest, thereby committed  an offence.

The prosecutor  Inspector Saja made similar application for the arrest and surrender of the accused persons in court and for the matter be transferred  to the High Court. The application was granted by the presiding magistrate  to that effect.

Set four; However,  this  involved only Major Sanna Manjang on multiple charges of murder though  he is currently on the run, hence the application for his arrest and surrender by the said police prosecutor under the cited laws of the Gambia, which was granted by the magistrate.

The accused Sanna Manjang was alleged to have in 2006, in Foni and diverse places in the Gambia, with  malice  aforethought,  unlawfully caused the  death  of one  Haruna  Jammeh  and  dropped  his  carcass  in  a well within  the Fonis, thereby committed an offence.

Major Manjang was also alleged to have in 2006, in Yundum and diverse places in the Gambia, with  malice  aforethought,  unlawfully  caused  the  death  of  one Dawda  Nyassi,  by  shooting  him  with  a  gun on  his  head, thereby committed an offence.

Set five; The police prosecutors further filed charges against the following nine accused persons for allegations of beheading two of Gambian American citizens under the Jammeh regime.

They are General Sulayman Badjie, Colonel Solo Bojang, Lt. Nuha Badjie, Major Momodou Jarju, Captain Mustapha Sanneh, Captain Michael Jatta, Staff Sergeant Sulayman Sambou SBN, WO1 Nfansu Nyabally and Corporal Saikouba Jarju.

They are accused of murder and conspiracy  to commit murder. The police Prosecutors accused them of unlawfully conspiring amongst themselves to wit commit murder that,  some times in the month of June 2013, in  Kanilai, West Coast Region of the Gambia,  With malice afore-thought  unlawfully caused  the death of Ebou Jobe and  Alhagie Mamud Ceesay, by beheading them with a machete, thereby committed the offence.

 Similar application for arrest warrant and surrender of the accused persons was made by the police prosecutor and it was granted by the presiding magistrate.

Set six; Sanna Manjang,  Captain  Mustapha  Sanneh, W01 Nfansu  Nyabally  and  Ismaila  Jammeh  were also  charged in absentia  before the said  Magistrate. They were alleged to  have  some time in the Month of April 2006, in Foni, West Coast Region of The Gambia, conspired  amongst themselves  and caused the death of Ndogo Mboob, by shooting him with a gun and threw his carcass or remains inside an old well, thereby committed the offence charged.

The cited police prosecutor applied for bench warrant be issued against them and for the matter be transferred to the High Court. The application was granted.

However, indications are that more charges against officers alleged to have commit similar offences, are likely to be pressed against them by the police prosecution unit, depending on findings from such investigations.

This Article forms part of the Newsletter edited and produced by The Advocate.

By Sanna Jawara, Chief Executive Officer-The Advocate, LLB, MA candidate Criminal Justice and Human Rights Law.

Source: Picture: Sanna Jawara