Former Chadian President Hissene Habre is on trial in Senegal for alleged human rights crimes, including 40,000 murders. The 25-year campaign to bring him to justice and what the trial means for Africa as a whole and The Gambia in particular is a theme for discussion. Even though Habre’s leadership lasted for just 8 years before being overthrown, but due to the relentless efforts of the survivors and human rights activists the man is finally facing justice. To draw parallels, Gambian Dictator Yahya Jammeh has served 21 years and counting, however, this trial of Hissene Habre has renewed our believed that Yahya Jammeh will also pay for his crimes, especially the murder of 16 young school boys and girls on the fateful days of 10/11 April 2000.
You can draw examples from Charles Taylor, who is currently serving a jail term for the atrocities he committed against his fellow Liberians during his reign of terror as a warlord and a president. Another recent example is Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to relinquish power after the Ivorian people voted him out but he opted otherwise to stay. We are drawing examples from these people because they had the same characteristics like Jammeh and if Jammeh is to learn these are the people he needs to learn from.
Meanwhile, even though Jammeh’s recent amnesty of pardoning his political opponents is welcomed and a step in the right direction, that would not serve as a deterrent for people and victims from seeking justice. Because if Jammeh wants to open a new page with Gambians he has to start repealing those anti democracy laws such as the indemnity he gave to killers of April 10/11 victims. Also put an end to the culture of fear and intimidation against people and the media most specifically. Of course free the judiciary for people to have confidence and start bring the perpetrators of injustices during his 21 years of dictatorship.
However, the best of all theses is for Dictator Jammeh to step down and allow Gambians to settle their differences and put the country in the directions, after over two decades of his rampant corruption, nepotism, ethnic divisions, murder, torture, rape, false imprisonments and exiled of his opponents. The end is on sight. When there is life, there is always hope! Long live The Gambia!