The UDP Diaspora organization has formally filed a Petition with Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague to initiate and expedite preliminary investigation into the crimes against humanity committed by President Yahya Jammeh, President of the Republic of The Gambia and the following nine officials of his regime:
Mr. Ousman Sonko, Minister of Interior
Ms. Mama Fatima Singhateh, Minister of Justice
Mr. Yankuba Sonko, Inspector General of Police
Mr. Yankuba Badjie, Director General, National Intelligence Agency
Mr. David Colley, Director of Prisons
Mr. Biran Mbye, Commander, Police Investigation Unit
Mr. James Mendy, Chief of Security, NIA/Senior State Torturer
Mr. Cheikh Omar Jeng, State Torturer, NIA
Mr. Babou Gaye Sonko, ARPC National Youth Mobilizer
The petition was sent by special courier and confirmed to have been delivered by the carrier on Monday, 6th June, 2016.
In the petition, the United Democratic Party (UDP) Diaspora Organisation, pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute of the International Court, to which Gambia is a signatory, provided information to Ms Fatou Bensouda of the Gambia, ICC Prosecutor, the crimes against humanity committed by President Jammeh and his officials in violation of Articles 5 and 7 of the Rome Statute as follows:
Murder of Ebrima Solo Sandeng in violation of Article 7(1)(a).
Imprisonment of Ousainou Darboe, members of the UDP Executive Committee, and the dozens of opposition supporters identified in Appendix “1”, in violation of Article (1)(e).
Torture of Ebrima Solo Sandeng, Nogoi Njie, Fatoumatta Jawara, Fatou Camara, and others in violation of Article 7(1)(f).
Rape and sexual violence against Nogoi Njie, Fatoumatta Jawara, Fatou Camara, and others in violation of Article 7(1)(g).
Persecution of members and supporters of the opposition UDP identified in Appendix “1”, in violation of Article 7(1)(h).
Enforced disappearance of Ebrima Solo Sandeng and other supporters of the UDP, in violation of Article 7(1)(i).
Mr. David Colley, Director of Prisons has withheld medication from UDP party leader Ousainou Darboe and other detainees. This is a violation of Article 7(1)(k) which prohibits inhumane acts intentionally committed to cause great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.
The beating of Ousainou Darboe, Femi Peters, Lamin Dibba, Lamin Jatta and others, and their solitary confinement in rodent and insect infested prison cells constitutes a violation of Article 7(1)(k).
Article 13(c) provides that the International Criminal Court may exercise its jurisdiction if the Prosecutor has initiated an investigation in respect of such crimes.
The UDP Diaspora Organisation further petitions that, upon completion of an expedited preliminary examination, the ICC Prosecutor should initiate an investigation, pursuant to Article 53, on the basis that the crimes committed are within the jurisdiction of the court.
Also, in pursuant to Article 15, Subsection 3, the Prosecutor was called upon to take diligent steps to present victims Nogoi Njie, Fatoumatta Jawara, Fatou Camara, and others to make representations to the Pre-Trial Chamber on the sexual assault of female detainees, members of the United Democratic Party of Gambia and Ousainou Darbo, its Secretary General and members of the UDP Executive Committee should be presented to the Pre-Trial Chamber to make representations on the torture, illegal detention, and enforced disappearance of citizens in the Gambia.
The Petition has made it abundantly clear that the ICC does have jurisdiction over all the crimes against humanity committed by Yahya Jammeh and his government from April 14th and 16th to date.
It would be recalled that the Opposition Leader, Ousainou Darboe, and other leading members of his party are currently being held under grueling conditions at the Mile Two prison facility in Banjul, the capital city and have been charged with seven trumped up charges of indictment and rioting just for a peaceful protest. A total of over one Hundred peaceful protesters including Lawyer Darboe were arrested by the security forces and detained.
In commenting on these developments, Mr. Alkali Conteh, UDP Diaspora Chairperson said: “now that the leadership of the United Democratic Party and other members of the Party have been arrested and tortured for demanding electoral reforms in wake of the elections scheduled for December this year, the time has come for the international Criminal Court to open an investigation into the human rights abuses and crimes against humanity that have been taking place in Gambia for a long time.” Mr. Conteh went on to say “The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, as a daughter of Gambia, cannot be blind to the situation currently unfolding in the land of her birth and she is now being formally and officially called upon to investigated the atrocities that have been taking place in Gambia.”
It is widely known that the ICC Prosecutor Ms. Fatou Bensouda has established a practice of issuing warnings to government and political parties to refrain from violence prior to and during elections. The practice is in fulfillment of the Prosecutor’s legal, ethical and moral obligations to prevent crimes against humanity. The Prosecutor is on record warning government and political leaders in Nigeria, Guinea, Burundi and other countries that she would prosecute individuals who engage in election violence. However, the Prosecutor has failed to issue similar warnings to the government and political leaders in The Gambia, and has failed to denounce or issue a statement on the torture and reported murder of Ebrima Solo Sandeng, the sexual violence against Nogoi Njie, the detention of Mr. Ousainou Darboe and other peaceful protesters as has been done by many international organizations including the UN. The silence on the part of The Gambian born prosecutor is in stark contrast to the following statements:
1. On February 2, 2015, in reference to Nigeria, the ICC Prosecutor stated that “Experience has shown that electoral competition, when gone astray, can give rise to violence …Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner to the commission of crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction is liable to prosecution either by Nigerian Courts or by ICC. No one should doubt my resolve, wherever necessary, to prosecute individuals responsible for the commission of ICC crimes.”
2. On March 16, 2015, the Prosecutor repeated her warning to Nigerian leaders and reminded them that any person who contributes to the commission of ICC crimes is liable to prosecution.
3. On July 4, 2015, the ICC Prosecutor stated that part of the reason for her visit to Guinea was related to her office’s preventive mandate. She stated that “it is absolutely crucial to prevent further crimes from being committed, no matter the situation or circumstance. We know that violence can erupt during elections. I reiterate my 2010 call to all Guinean political actors, to ensure that elections remain calm and that their supporters refrain from violence … In the upcoming months … Guinea can and must fight against impunity and put an end to violence.”
4. On October 14, 2015, Prosecutor Bensouda noted that the Presidential election in Guinea was on course, and stated “I wish to reiterate that anyone who commits, orders, incites, encourages or contributes in any other way to the commission of atrocity crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC is liable to prosecution. Either in Guinea or at the Court in the Hague.”
5. On April 25, 2016, the ICC Prosecutor stated thus “Since April 2015, I have closely followed the situation in Burundi and repeatedly called upon all involved to refrain from violence, warning that those alleged to be committing crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC could be held individually accountable.” The Prosecutor stated that her office has reviewed a number of communications detailing acts of “killing, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as cases of enforced disappearance ….. I have decided therefore to open a preliminary examination into the situation in Burundi since April 2015.”
With this move it is believed that the inhuman and degrading treatment of his long suffering people will now receive the attention and international attention it deserves. The ball is in the court of the Chief Prosecutor.