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Swiss court jails Gambian ex-minister for crimes against humanity

Swiss court jails Gambian ex-minister for crimes against humanity

A Swiss court convicted a former government minister from Gambia of crimes against humanity under ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh and jailed him for 20 years, in a historic verdict using universal jurisdiction in Europe. The Federal Criminal Court found Ousman Sonko guilty on several counts of intentional homicide, torture and false imprisonment. Sonko, who was dismissed as Gambia's interior minister in 2016, was acquitted of rape. "The trial chamber found Ousman Sonko guilty of multiple counts of intentional homicide, multiple counts of torture and multiple counts of deprivation of liberty, each as a crime against humanity," the court said in a…
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Gambian parliament to discuss bill to decriminalise female genital mutilation

Gambian parliament to discuss bill to decriminalise female genital mutilation

A bill seeking to repeal Gambia's ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) was presented in the West African country's parliament and will be discussed by lawmakers later this month. Former president Yahya Jammeh banned the practice in 2015 and introduced steep fines and jail sentences for perpetrators. However, many Gambians still believe that FGM is a requirement of Islam and the bill -- introduced by lawmaker Almameh Gibba -- argues that the current ban violates citizens' rights to practice their culture and religion. The bill has divided public opinion. Anti-FGM advocates point to the harmful physical and psychological effects of…
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Gambian ex-minister faces rape, torture charges in long-awaited Swiss trial

Gambian ex-minister faces rape, torture charges in long-awaited Swiss trial

A former Gambian minister under ousted dictator Yahya Jammeh went on trial in Switzerland for crimes against humanity in a milestone case where a serial rape victim will testify after a multi-decade wait for justice. Former interior minister Ousman Sonko becomes the highest-ranking official to be tried in Europe under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows grave crimes to be prosecuted anywhere, said the Swiss campaign group TRIAL International which filed the complaint against him. Nine Gambian plaintiffs are coming to Switzerland for the hearing at the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona. Binta Jamba, one of the plaintiffs who…
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May 3 reflections honouring contributions of journalist victims and friends of the Gambian media

May 3 reflections honouring contributions of journalist victims and friends of the Gambian media

WEDNESDAY, May 3, 2023, marked the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day with the global theme, Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a driver for all other human rights. As a journalist, I have always believed that all other rights are intrinsically linked to the right to express oneself. This year’s theme falls in line with principles I have tried to uphold over the past 24 years. At the start of my journalism career as a cub reporter in 1998, I did not articulate it. Then, I was no activist or human rights defender. NDEY TAPHA…
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Honouring contributions of journalist victims and friends of the Gambian media

Honouring contributions of journalist victims and friends of the Gambian media

WEDNESDAY, May 3, 2023, marked the 30th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day with the global theme, Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a driver for all other human rights. NDEY TAPHA SOSSEH As a journalist, I have always believed that all other rights are intrinsically linked to the right to express oneself. This year’s theme falls in line with principles I have tried to uphold over the past 24 years. At the start of my journalism career as a cub reporter in 1998, I did not articulate it. Then, I was no activist or human rights…
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Switzerland indicts former Gambian minister for crimes against humanity

SWITZERLAND'S attorney general has filed an indictment against Gambia's former interior minister for crimes against humanity committed under former authoritarian leader Yahya Jammeh, it said in a statement. Ousman Sonko is accused of having supported, participated in and failed to prevent "systematic and generalised attacks" as part of a repressive campaign by security forces against Jammeh's opponents, the Office of the Attorney General said. Sonko's lawyer, Philippe Currat, told Reuters on Wednesday that his client disputed the charges and that some of the alleged acts occurred before articles on crimes against humanity came into force in the Swiss Criminal Code.…
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Five ex-Gambian intelligence officials guilty of murder

Five ex-Gambian intelligence officials guilty of murder

GAMBIA'S former spy chief and four other ex-intelligence officials have been sentenced to death for the 2016 murder of an opponent of ex-president Yahya Jammeh, a rare instance of criminal accountability for Jammeh-era crimes The country has observed a moratorium on the death penalty since 2018, so the sentences handed down by Gambia's high court will be converted to life imprisonment. The court issued the sentences late on Wednesday against Yankuba Badjie, the former director-general of the National Intelligence Agency and four other senior NIA officials for the murder of Solo Sandeng. Two other defendants were acquitted. The defendants all…
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What’s in store for Gambians as they gear up for hotly contested poll

What’s in store for Gambians as they gear up for hotly contested poll

GAMBIANS will shortly go to the polls to elect a new president in the country’s ninth direct presidential election, of which only one has seen an opposition candidate defeat the incumbent. That was in December 2016 when Adama Barrow defeated Yahya Jammeh to end the latter’s 22 years of brutal rule. Author DAVID PERFECT, Visiting professor, University of Chester Before that, Dawda Jawara had won three successive elections between 1982 and 1992 and Jammeh five between 1996 and 2011. Even after being defeated at the polls Jammeh tried to cling to power by initially rejecting the outcome. But Barrow was…
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Disgraced Jammeh looms over Gambia election

Disgraced Jammeh looms over Gambia election

PAP SAINE and EDWARD McALLISTER AT a pre-election rally last month, supporters of Gambia's main opposition coalition cheered the opening of the star attraction - a speech by former President Yahya Jammeh delivered over a crackly phone line from exile 2,000 miles away. "(President) Adama Barrow destroyed everything good I left for Gambians to benefit from - the hospitals, agriculture and education," Jammeh said to enthusiastic applause. "We should all unite and vote him out." Gambians go to the polls on Saturday and for the first time in 27 years Jammeh, who took power in a 1994 coup, will not…
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Gambian president wins re-election, opposition cries foul

Gambian president wins re-election, opposition cries foul

BATE FELIX GAMBIAN President Adama Barrow has comfortably won re-election, the electoral commission said has announced, though he may face a legal challenge from opposition candidates who rejected the results because of unspecified irregularities. The vote was the first in 27 years without disgraced former President Yahya Jammeh, who was forced into exile in Equatorial Guinea after refusing to accept defeat to Barrow in 2016. Jammeh's despotic 22-year rule over the small West African nation of 2.5 million people, which began with a 1994 coup, was characterised by killings and torture of political opponents. Saturday's peaceful election was seen by…
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