By Bernice Bessey
The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) is calling on the Government of Ghana to show political will by bringing the former President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, who was responsible for the killing of 44 Ghanaians to Ghana to face trial.
Already, Afro Barometer Survey had established that 51% of Gambians had expressed interest in the prosecution of their ex-President for crimes and human-rights abuses that he committed during his brutal rule.
Ghanaian courts have jurisdiction over killing, torture and enforced disappearance that occur outside the territory of Ghana. The Policy Think Tank believes the Courts Act – 1993 (ACT 459); amended Section 56 provides the clue.
William Nyarko, Coordinator of ‘Jammeh2Justice Ghana Campaign’ and Executive Director of Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability (ACILA), speaking at a programme to mark one year of ‘Jammeh2Justice Ghana campaign’ said there was legal basis to bring the former brutal dictator to Ghana to face trial.
Speaking on the theme, “Bringing Yahya Jammeh to justice for the deaths and enforced disappearance of approximately 44 Ghanaian migrants in the Gambia,” Nyarko said Ghana should look at Section 56 of the Courts Act – 1993 (ACT 459); subsection (4)(n).
The said portion of the Act reads: “Any person (whether a citizen of Ghana or not) is liable to be tried and punished in Ghana for the respective offence if he does an act, which, if done within the jurisdiction of the courts of Ghana, would have constituted any of the following offences –
“(n) any other offence which is authorised or required by a convention or treaty to which the Republic is a signatory to be prosecuted and punished in Ghana wherever the offence was committed.”
He further indicated that 60 percent of Gambians have shown interest in supporting Ghana to investigate the killing of the Ghanaian migrants in their country, and that, the government of Ghana must show political will to collaborate with them to bring Yahya Jammeh to book.
The Coordinator of ‘Jammeh2Justice’ stressed that in 2012, Ghana amended the Criminal Code and made enforced disappearances a crime, which put the country in a better position to prosecute Yahya Jammeh.
Mr Nyarko added that though Yahya Jammeh is seeking refugee status in Equatorial Guinea, after he lost the 2016 election to Adama Barrow, he is also protected by an immunity clause in The Gambia Constitution, which clause could be quashed by two-thirds of the National Assembly members.
He quoted President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea as saying that he would not turn down a request by The Gambia to extradite Jammeh.
The only challenge, Nyarko continued, is whether Mr Barrow would obtain two-thirds of all members of the National Assembly to remove the immunity clause.
The United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), through joint reports on the murder of the Ghanaian migrants, though concluded that the atrocities were not committed by the Yahya Jammeh government, and, therefore, could not be charged for it, new evidence popping up show that the Gambian dictator gave the orders for the killing of the Ghanaians.
To him, the campaign, which is being championed alongside other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), including Human Rights Advocacy Centre, POS Foundation, Amnesty International, Media Foundation for West Africa and CHRI, is for Ghana to send an extradition request to Equatorial Guinea, where Jammeh is currently domiciled, for him to be released to face trial in Ghana.
Justice Emile Short, former judge for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and Commissioner for Human Right and Administration Justice in Ghana, who chaired the event, said since 2005, there have been efforts to seek justice for the families of the victims.
He sadly said the 44 Ghanaians were massacred for no reason, and that there was the need for the government of Ghana to expedite action in seeking justice for the victims’ families.
“Government owes it to the victims’ families to be served justice, and to ensure that adequate compensation are paid to the families,” he added.
Martin Kyere, a survivor, narrated his ordeal that took place some 14 years ago, and used the occasion to plead with the government to show political will in ensuring justice for him and the families of the murdered Ghanaians.