Thursday, February 5, 2015

Robert F. Kennedy Center calls for the investigation of Jammeh's $3.5 million Potomac Mansion among other stringent measures

RFKCenter's Jeffery Smith
Yaya Jammeh's $3.5 million mansion

In its first major human rights report on The Gambia, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights released a well-documented and comprehensive account of the human rights condition in the Gambia, covering Yaya Jammeh's 20-year tyrannical rule.

In cataloging the major human rights abuses dating back to July 22nd 1994 when Jammeh seized power unconstitutionally from a democratically elected government of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, the RFKCenter Report put emphasis on the most recent developments, January - February 2015 -  that covers the events of the 30 December 2014 that culminated in the State House attack distinguishing itself from major international human rights groups who have yet to report on the events.

The report highlights the predicament faced by ordinary Gambian citizens, especially relatives of those accused of the State House attacks "being detained without charge and have been held incommunicado, some of them nearly for a month."  The Report also stated that "an estimated 16 suspected 'homosexuals' arrested, including a 16-year old boy who was later released..." Many are still being held incommunicado since last October.

Roads blocks have mushroomed in the Greater Banjul area since the attacks on the State House with motorists and public transport passengers being forced to surrender their cell phones and personal belongings to authorities.

The case of Mr. Alieu Sarr, the suspected gay who was tortured and dumped at a Banjul hospital, has been cited by the Report, a subject we covered last week.

The RFKCenter Report further distinguishes itself from many reports of its kind by the recommendations it is making to the United States Government as well as to the international community that includes an immediate investigation into President Jammeh, his immediate family members and senior officials in his government for misuse of public funds.

Among the available options, according to the Report "the U.S. government should use the Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative to combat foreign official corruption and to recover public funds for their intended and proper use."  In this regard, the Report suggests that the U.S. government should investigate the $3.5 million mansion owned by Jammeh in Potomac, Maryland.

The RFKCenter for Justice and Human Rights Report also recommends restrict travel and ban individuals from obtaining visas to travel to the United States who are known to be engaged in corrupt practices and human right abuses.

The U.S. government is also being urged to restrict "any and all programs that solely benefit the Government of The Gambia, particularly military assistance.  See the complete list of affected military programs in the attached press release from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights here.

The RFKCenter is also making some specific recommendations to the African Union, specifically to the African Commission of Human and People's Rights (ACHPR), should request a site visit to The Gambia and access to Mile II prisons' security wing and to present its findings to the African Union.

The ACHPR should immediately and publicly denounce the current wave of human rights abuses taking place in the Gambia, including the incommunicado detention and torture of LGBT people, family members of those critical of the government, and human rights defenders.

The Robert F. Kennedey Center for Justice and Human Rights is finally urging the United Nations, especially the U.N. Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon to step up to the plate and issue a public statement denouncing the deplorable, and increasingly deteriorating condition of the human rights situation in Yaya Jammeh's Gambia.  The Secretary-General should demand that human rights violations immediately cease, the Report recommends.

As stated earlier, this being the first full Report of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights on the situation in The Gambia, it is detailed in both the abuses committed by the Jammeh regime as it is precise and comprehensive in its recommendations to the United States Government, the African Union and the United Nations that leaves little to the imagination.

We hope all parties will take heed and start addressing the grave problems brought about by the regime in Banjul that is corrupt, inept and violent.