ECOWAS parliament overrules draft Gambia special tribunal decision


The ECOWAS Parliament in session

By Mark Longyen

The ECOWAS Parliament has issued an unfavorable opinion on the adoption of a draft decision on the establishment of a special tribunal for The Gambia, and the adoption of the tribunal’s statute.

The 6th parliament in a resolution marked: ECW/PARL/RES.004/JULY/2024, deliberated and adopted the resolution issued on Friday in Abuja during its 2024 first ordinary session.

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The parliament also mandated its speaker to transmit the resolution to the president of the ECOWAS commission for onward transmission to the chairman of the council of ministers.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that The Gambia established the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) in 2017 to investigate and document human rights abuses committed in the country between July 1994 and January 2017.

The decision is a culmination of The Gambia’s request for ECOWAS collaboration in setting up the tribunal to prosecute human rights violations culprits in the country under former President Yahya Jammeh.

The parliament’s resolution follows the submission on Thursday of the report of its joint committee on legal affairs and human rights, political affairs, peace, security and APRM, social affairs, gender and women empowerment.

The parliament explained in the resolution that the draft decision under consideration was not submitted to it within the time frame required by its supplementary act, hence members did not have adequate time to thoroughly examine it.

It said that the failure to submit the draft within the time frame was a fatal impediment to having a better understanding of the issues relating to ECOWAS’ involvement in the setting up of the tribunal.

The parliament noted that it was also mindful of Article 9 of the supplementary act relating to the enhancement of the powers of the parliament, which specifies areas in which it must be consulted in community texts adoption process.

The resolution reads in part:

“Deeply concerned about peace and stability in West Africa, and about the impact that the establishment of the special tribunal for The Gambia under the leadership of ECOWAS could have on peace and security in The Gambia and the region.

“Recognizes the right of The Gambia to establish a special tribunal for the purpose of prosecuting crimes, serious human rights violations committed on its territory between 22 July, 1994 and 21 January 2017, in order to fight against impunity, deliver justice to the victims and preserve respect for the rule of law in the country.

“Overrules the idea of establishing the said special tribunal under the leadership of ECOWAS.”

NAN recalls that ex-President Jammeh, now living in exile in Equatorial Guinea, was accused of brutal human rights violations, such as murder, rape and torture, as highlighted in the TRCC’s final report.(NAN)

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