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Roundtable: Experiences of Gambian Survivors in Domestic and Universal Jurisdiction Cases

Dr. Nina Burri, Attorney at law, RISE Attorneys at law, Zurich, Switzerland, lecturer at the University of St. Gallen
Fatoumatta Sandeng Darboe, founder and CEO of the Solo Sandeng Foundation
Muhammed Sandeng, Executive Secretary of the Solo Sandeng Foundation
Isatou Jammeh, Founder of The Victim’s podcast, the first podcast on transitional justice in The Gambia

Since the fall of the regime of Yahya Jammeh in late 2016, a transitional justice process has started in the Gambia. During months, the Truth and Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), uncovered facts and memories of hundreds of victims and survivors. In parallel, several universal jurisdiction cases emerged. In Switzerland, the Office of the Attorney General arrested in early 2017 the former Minister of the Interior Ousman Sonko and filed an indictment against him for alleged crimes against humanity in April 2023. His trial before the Swiss Federal Criminal Court will take place in January 2024. In Germany and in the US, former members of the Junglers (a death squad of the former president Yahya Jammeh) stand trial for alleged crimes against humanity. At the same time, in the Gambia itself, some few proceedings dealing with crimes committed during the rule of the former regime took place.

This round table will highlight different perspectives of victim participation in these various layers and forms of the transitional justice processes: the TRRC, domestic criminal justice, universal jurisdiction cases, or in fora beyond the legal framework, namely podcasts and other outreach projects. While participation in high profile universal jurisdiction cases might often trigger a lot of interest in academic fora, it might be less satisfactory for the participating actors because their procedural rights are restricted by distance and language, and since information of the process is only slowly flowing back to the Gambia. Local domestic proceedings, on the other hand, face other severe limitations. The panel participants will share their first-hand rich experiences from directly participation in these processes.