Saturday, June 11, 2016

ICC's Bensouda must join the UN Genocide Adviser in condemning Yaya Jammeh

Fatou Bensouda , ICC Chief Prosecutor  

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, had excused herself in the past for not proactively pursuing the deplorable human rights abuses in her native Gambia because her mandate is limited to three types of crimes : genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. And, in short, none of these apply to The Gambia.

We are OK with her explanation up to this point regarding her silence, however atrocious and brutal Jammeh's human rights abuses have been and continue to be.  We appreciate the fact that the legal threshold for any of these categories of crimes under the Rome Statutes is very high and for a reason.

However, after Yaya Jammeh uttered those incendiary statements against the Mandinka ethnic group at a political rally in the outskirts of the capital of Banjul, referring to them as "enemies and foreigners" and threatening to kill them one by one and "put them and out them "where even a fly cannot see them", Adama Dieng, the Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide condemned the Gambian dictator in unequivocal and unambiguous language.

He said he was "profoundly alarmed at...Jammeh's public stigmatization, dehumanization and threats against the Mandinkas.  Public statement by a national leader are irresponsible and extremely dangerous.  They can contribute to dividing populations, feed suspicion and serve to incite violence against communities, based solely on their identity."

Mr. Dieng reminded Jammeh, if a reminder was necessary, of how incitement preceded the carnage in Rwanda and Bosnia.  Ironically, Ousainou Darboe, the leader of the biggest opposition party is currently in court charged with inciting violence, among other charges, for simply exercise his constitutional right to protest against a youth leader and member of his political party.

Madam Chief Prosecutor, you cannot stay silent anymore.   Join your UN colleague by adding the voice of the International Criminal Court to the list of those condemning Yaya Jammeh for inciting violence against the Mandinka ethic group that can lead to genocide.  Jammeh has embarked on a dangerous path that must be stopped.  He must be told so and warned to refrain from making further irresponsible statements that incite violence against a group of Gambians who happen to belong to a different ethnic group.