Mr. Reed Broody, an international human rights lawyer and activist, who is hired by the Human Rights Watch, tasked with helping victims of Jammeh get justice, has spoken of his works as preparing evidences that will possibly see former President Jammeh face the full wrath of the law for crimes committed under his regime.
“We are just beginning to work with the victims association to get them organised, get their voice to have an influence in the transition justice process, and in building evidence against Yahya Jammeh,” Broody told The Point yesterday.
“The key is creating the political will, essential to [which] is having the victims tell their stories. We saw in the Habre case that through tenacity, perseverance and imagination, victims can create the political condition to bring an African President to justice in Africa, with the support of the African Union,” he added.
As a member of the International Commission of Jurists, Mr. Broody’s experience in such works span across continents, working as the Deputy Chief of the UN Secretary-General’s Investigative Team in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Director of the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL), advisor to the government of Haiti for the prosecution of serious crimes, Advocacy Director and Spokesperson of Human Rights Watch, Executive Director of the International Human Rights Law Group, among several other prestigious groups.
In April, Broody and Human Rights Watch facilitated what he called “a very positive meeting” between the victims of Habra and Jammeh in Banjul. It was inspiring for Gambian victims to hear how the Chadian victims overcame obstacles they encountered in bringing Habre to Justice.
That was an international campaign, Mr. Broody spearheaded to bring the exiled former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré to justice. After a 17-year campaign, Habré was convicted of crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and rape by the “Extraordinary African Chambers” in Senegal.
Broody said it was the victims of the Chadian dictator who did this; he merely facilitated the process. “They were able to do that by telling their stories; by convincing leaders and public opinions that they have a right to justice,” he said.
In 2011, Mr. Broody also assisted Haitian government to build the legal case against former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier.
When asked what lessons he will bring to the Jammeh victims’ quest for justice, he said, the Hissene Habre’s case shows that, if you put victims at the centre of the struggle and get people like Baba (Deyda) Hydara to talk about what happened to his father and his struggle for justice; Amadaou Scattred Janneh to talk about how he came out of jail and started fighting the cause for justice; or Fatoumatta Sandeng whose father was killed; Imam Baba Leigh who underwent torture and months of incarceration without charge; or Isatou Jammeh who lost her dad and aunt at a young age, all thanks to Yahya Jammeh – ultimately, you can persuade even African presidents that they should not stand in the way of these people’s fight for justice .
“Human Rights Watch and Reed Broody are not going to be in front of this… we can be a catalyst. “We can talk about the experiences of other countries; help with technical support, bring together, for instance, organisations from The Gambia and people from Equatorial Guinea (we are in conversation with lawyers and organisations from Equatorial Guinea where Jammeh is currently residing),” he explained.
“From what I have seen, there is wide consensus among victims and the population in general that Yahya Jammeh should be held accountable for his alleged crimes. No one can predict what the future holds, but certainly there is no reason why Jammeh should not be held accountable, even though he’s gone to Equatorial Guinea which is a country where he felt safe… There again, I think the Habre’s case showed that even the Africans presidents will have to bend to the will of the victims who are fighting for justice.
Culled from The Point newspaper