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Family of disappeared Gambian Saul Ndow takes Gov’t to ECOWAS court

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The family of Saul Ndow, a Gambian reportedly disappeared in the country in April 2013, has filed a complaint before the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice against The Gambia on Monday.

Nana-Jo Ndow, daughter of Saul Ndow, Founder & Executive Director of ANEKED (African Network against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances) filed the case through Attorneys Elise Le Gall (lead counsel) and Deji Ajare (co-counsel) on July 1.

“We are seeking for proper and impartial investigations to be conducted and those responsible for the forces disappearance and killing to be prosecuted before a competent court,” Nana-Jo Ndow told Kerr Fatou.

Saul Ndow was a critic of the former President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh and of his regime.

His enforced disappearance in April 2013, together with a former Member of Parliament, Mahawa Cham, resulted in his alleged extrajudicial killing on the direct orders of Yahya Jammeh.

“Since 2013 and despite the change of Government, many appeals made by the Ndow family, the credible evidence that has surfaced through journalists investigating and testimonies, and persons involved being identified, no investigation has been conducted nor initiated by the Gambian government,” a statement from the family on Monday stated.

“To justify this denial of justice, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of The Gambia, Abubacarr B. Tambadou has affirmed that any investigation regarding this case will be carried out under the direction of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), which was set up in 2018.

“We contend that the TRRC’s role is as its name indicates “truth-seeking” and it is NOT a judicial body. Therefore, it cannot be prescribed as the only option for victims seeking redress, especially when it may lead to amnesties and/or some recommendations being ignored. Furthermore, transitional justice mechanisms are not intended to and cannot replace judicial investigations and prosecutions.

“We argue that the Government’s failure to conduct proper and impartial investigations into the forced disappearance of Saul Ndow and subsequent alleged extrajudicial killing violates the right to life, the right to an effective remedy and the right to have a cause heard within a reasonable time.”

Former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh faces several allegations of killings and enforced disappearances during his 22-year rule. Gambia has lost at least 6 cases in recent times at the regional court, costing the country millions of dalasi in damages.

Among the cases Gambia lost at the regional court were the disappearance case of Chief Ebrima Manneh, killing of Journalist Deyda Hydara, torture of journalists Lamin Fatty and Ebrima Saidykan, among others.

Though the current Government, unlike the previous one, cooperates with the decision of the regional court, it is doing little efforts to hold perpetrators of past crimes to account.

Several high profile security men accused of severe human rights violations are still in the system.

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