Wednesday, April 9, 2014

European Union and United States should impose travel ban on Jammeh and senior-level officials

Yaya Jammeh, Mrs. Zeinab Jamus Jammeh, Interior Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs, National Intelligence Agency Director, Army Chief, National Drug Agency Director, Managing Director Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation,  Managing Director Gambia Ports Authority, Speaker of the National Assembly, and Assemblyman Seedy Njie (Nominated Member) should all be banned from travelling abroad until the EU's 17- point demands have been reasonably met by a very callous and repressive dictatorship.  Visa restrictions should also be imposed senior level officials as well.  We are urging the European Union and the United States to take the lead in seeing that the Yaya Jammeh regime is held accountable for its human rights abuses, and it continued.  We are lending our support to this campaign because Yaya Jammeh is not someone to do business with; he is unreliable, dishonest and very deceitful a character to dialogue with.

The European Union's delegation to Banjul, led by the EU Ambassador to The Gambia, Dominique Delacour, met with Jammeh at State House to present the preliminary outcome of her delegation's discussions with the government side, led by the Minister for Presidential Affairs.  The outcome of the recently concluded 4th EU-Africa Summit held in Brussels was also on the agenda.

During her press conference following her closed-door session with Yaya Jammeh, the message conveyed by the EU Ambassador was that while the EU was anxious to "discuss the issues of cooperation, governance and human rights that are of common concern of the government of the Gambia and also the EU", Yaya Jammeh was interested in the outcome of the Brussels Summit - to which he refused to attend after being denied the Chairmanship of ECOWAS - but was "particularly concerned about the (EU's) special statement on migration."

It is characteristic of Jammeh to focus on his own personal and political interest, even if it's at the expense of the common good.  He is inherently selfish and The Gambia is suffering as result of his selfishness, and greed. His particular concern about the EU's Special Statement on Migration is not about the thorough, complex and intricate nature of the subject that links migration, employment and higher education policies which led the head of the African Union, Mrs. Dlamini-Zuma, to say "if we concentrate on improving the skills of our people, investing in them, they will not have to come through Lampedusa" (Italian Island that has become the main transit point for African immigrants).  She continued by saying that when Africans are trained and provided with the skills required by Europe, the African immigrants will be received at airports and regular seaports as regular immigrants.  Obviously, Mrs Dlamini-Zuma gets it and Yaya doesn't, and who, somehow, managed to reduce such a serious and complex subject matter to visas, their issuance or lack thereof to the issuance to his officials and cronies, some of whom have been denied visas in the recent past - probably another neo-colonialist plot led by Prime Minister David Cameroon and President Barack Obama.

Jammeh had convinced Spain and Italy, two 'front-line states' in the battle against illegal immigration that more bilateral aid to Gambia will stem the tide.  This is the wrong policy direction for both Italy and Spain and our claim is borne by the illegal immigrants trying to enter Europe through Morocco.  Since 2000, the figures have increased dramatically with no sign of abating anytime soon.  A regional approach to the migration issue is the most fiscally prudent and effective approach, in an age of austerity - an approach that Jammeh would rather not see for obvious reasons.  He likes to be the ultimate authority, therefore regional cooperation poses challenges to the absolute authority he's come to enjoy exercising.

Jammeh is neither willing nor ready to address the migration issue comprehensively because to do so will force his to address the human rights issues facing The Gambia, including some aspects of the EU's 17-points demands.  He'd rather talk about the inconsequential aspects of migration like EU consular matters ( issuance of visas to his cronies) than the causes and consequences of illegal migration that will then force him to talk about human rights abuses, repressive laws, employment creation, skills development and allowing young Gambians to freely express themselves.  Today, a young man cannot make a public declarative statement about the hard economic conditions without risking going to jail for stating a fact.

The EU, and by extension the U.S, must come to terms with the fact that the "strong and unambiguous political will necessary to meet all the challenges" as stated in the Statement on Migration is not Yaya Jammeh's forte.  Yaya's singular goal is to stay in power for as long as possible, using all means necessary.  It is time for both the European Union and the United States to recognize this fact, and to take measures to get Jammeh to concede immediately to all of the 17-points demands of the EU or risk the imposition of travel bans against Jammeh, his spouse and senior members of his government.  This is the only language Yaya Jammeh understands.