By Omar Bah
Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch, a renowned international lawyer has said that extraditing former President Yahya Jammeh to The Gambia could be ‘extremely dangerous’.
“Let us be honest and pragmatic; bringing Yahya Jammeh back today to The Gambia could be a very dangerous thing. It would be a distraction and it could inflame tension at a time when the transition is still moving forward,” he told The Standard on the sidelines of a press conference at Tango last Saturday.
Brody, who recently served as counsel for victims of former Chadian dictator, Hissène Habré, is leading the campaign #Jammeh2Justice.
The activist is in the country with his team to scale up their action for the new government to fully support the initiative taken by Ghana to extradite and prosecute Jammeh in their country barely a year after the campaign to bring Jammeh and his accomplices to justice was launched.
He said they are monitoring proceedings with the trial of the NIA 9.
“We have seen that there is a hill to climb. So obviously the intention is to have Yahya Jammeh and those who committed the crimes of his regime prosecuted here in the Gambia but it may not be possible quite easily yet; so let’s look somewhere else,” he added.
Brody went on to disclose that they have decided together with the victims and The Gambia Government to give priority to the Ghana option.
“Ghana lost 44 of its citizens. It has both the legal and technical competence over this case and a strong judiciary and it is also far away,” he explained.
The lawyer, known around the world as the ‘tyrant hunter’, observed that having Yahya Jammeh sent as a criminal defendant to Ghana will also serve as a political way of sidelining him and preventing him from making mischief.
“So the first option we are looking at is the Ghana option as the Gambia Minister of Justice said there are lot of technical gaps and capacity issues in the Gambia. Right now we are establishing the facts and offering our assistance to the Government of Ghana to investigate this case. If Ghana takes up the case, they will also need to investigate by speaking to the witnesses in The Gambia and Senegal where we believe the bodies are buried,” Brody explained.
He said after that Ghana will need assistance from The Gambia and Senegalese authorities before they will make any determination of whether or not to seek for Yahya Jammeh’s extradition from Equatorial Guinea.
Mr Brody said given the fact that Yahya Jammeh is in Equatorial Guinea “a country from which it could be difficult to extract him as well as the fact that Gambian authorities feel that it is not yet right to bring him back to the Gambia, the Ghana option is the most appropriate now”.