The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) Parliament has rejected the bloc’s involvement in the Gambia’s hybrid court to try former President Yahya Jammeh.

In reaction to the regional parliament’s rejection, the Gambia’s Ministry of Justice said: “The Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparation Commission has recommended prosecution of approximately 69 individuals for various crimes including intentional offences committed in the Gambia from July 1994 to January 2017. 

“The government of the Gambia has accepted this recommendation in its whitepaper and has begun to implementing it through the establishment of a special Accountability Mechanism. This mechanism includes the special prosecutor’s office, the special criminal division of the high court, and the special Hybrid Tribunal.

“In October 2022, the government of the Gambia proposed partnership with Ecowas commission to establish a special tribunal for the Gambia since February 2024, The Ecowas commission and the government has been working together through a joint technical committee to develop statute for the special tribunal and the Decision for consideration by Ecowas Heads of state.”

“From 10 to 12 June 2024, technical experts from Ecowas member states ‘Ministries of justice meet in Banjul to review the draft statute and decision on the special tribunal they recommend its adoption to the Ecowas ministers of justice. On 29 June 2024, the Ecowas mediation and security council at the ambassadorial level decided to defer the memorandum for further consultations and deliberations at the ministries of justice level to follow existing procedures.

“Subsequently, on 2 July 2024 the ministers of Justice met considered, adopted the experts’ report and approved the draft statue and decision for the special tribunal for the Gambia. Despite efforts to move forward, the Ecowas mediation and security council at the ministerial level meeting on the 3 July chose to defer consideration of the memorandum on the establishment of the special tribunal to their next session the session, meaning it will be tabled at the 65th Ordinary Session of the authority of Heads of states and governments scheduled for the 7th July 2024. 

“The Ecowas commission sought the opinion of the parliament, which has deliberated on the 5 July 2024. While the Ecowas parliament acknowledged the Gambia’s right to establish a special tribunal to prosecute crimes and human rights violations, it expressed concerns about Ecowas’ involvement in the process,” it added.

Reporting by Adama Makasuba

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