A senior Gambian lawyer and former lead counsel of the Gambia’s truth, reconciliation and reparations commission has said the country’s government “must do more” to prosecute perpetrators of human rights abuses during the 22 year rule of ex-President Yahya Jammeh.

Essa Mbye Faal made the comments in reaction to the sentencing of ex-Gambian minister Ousman Sonko by a Swiss Federal Court to 20 years in jail for aiding the Jammeh government to kill Gambians.

In his reaction statement, the senior lawyer welcomed the sentencing of Sonko while recognising the efforts of the country’s truth commission in unearthing the crimes committed during the Jammeh regime, leading to prosecution of two top figures of the former regime.

“The government of The Gambia must do more. It must implement fully all the recommendations of the TRRC and must also establish an effective mechanism for accountability/prosecution. The dillydallying and feet dragging must stop at least to show respect for the victims and to honour the pledge to and aspirations of the Gambian people,” he said.

“On this historic occasion, I congratulate all the staff and commissioners of the TRRC for their stellar work in unearthing the violations that formed the basis of these charges and convictions. I also congratulate the victim groups for their roles in securing the accountability process in these cases. But there is still much work to be done,” he added.

“During my closing remarks at the TRRC, I stated that the wheels of justice for the atrocity crimes committed in our country have started moving. Accountability must happen as the train of justice has left the station.

“If Gambia does not prosecute there are other states or institutions out there which would prosecute including the ICC. Now we see that in slow motion in the international sphere. But, we need to see progress domestically. While I recognise that the government has taken critical positive steps towards accountability by presenting the necessary enabling legal framework bills to the National Assembly, the process is too slow. One wonders whether there is political will to bring the architects and major perpetrators to justice,” he continued.

Reporting by Adama Makasuba

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