BANJUL, Gambia — Many of the Gambian residents who testified lately that their former president was accountable for a variety of atrocities by no means thought they might in the future see him tried in a courtroom.

But that prospect grew to become extra actual on Wednesday, after the present authorities mentioned it plans to prosecute Yahya Jammeh, who for 22 years dominated over and sometimes terrorized the residents of his small nation on the coast of West Africa.

The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, created to uncover human rights violations, from 2018 to 2021 streamed the testimonies of victims and the confessions of alleged perpetrators reside into the nation’s dwelling rooms.

The witnesses included members of the previous president’s hit squad, often known as the junglers. But many extra of the witnesses have been residents who recounted being victimized, akin to Toufah Jallow, who accused the previous president of raping her when she was 18, simply after she had received the nation’s high expertise present.

“It’s a huge relief off my shoulders,” Ms. Jallow mentioned of the federal government’s determination in an interview on Wednesday. “We lost hope at some point.”

But of lastly reaching this level, she mentioned: “It’s very empowering for a lot of victims.”

In a televised deal with, Dawda Jallow, the minister of justice, offered the federal government’s response to the reality fee, accepting its suggestions, which included the prosecution of the previous president.

“President Jammeh will face justice for the atrocities that he committed in this country,” Mr. Jallow mentioned.

But whereas some victims and civil society leaders welcomed it as an enormous step, others expressed doubts that the federal government would comply with its phrases with concrete motion.

“I think Adama Barrow and his government realize they have no choice but to accept these recommendations,” mentioned Nana-Jo Ndow, founding father of the African Network in opposition to Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances. But, she added, “whether they prosecute or not is another question.”

The reality fee documented 122 circumstances of torture, greater than 230 individuals killed and plenty of raped by Mr. Jammeh’s operatives, nearly all of them on the previous president’s orders. Mr. Jammeh jailed his critics, branded residents as witches and compelled individuals with AIDS to swap their drugs for bogus natural therapies that he had invented, in accordance with human rights advocates.

After shedding an election and attempting to cling to energy, Mr. Jammeh lastly went into exile in 2017. A brand new coalition authorities and its new president, a former actual property agent named Adama Barrow, have been greeted as heroes.

But politics quickly took priority over justice. Last yr, with one other election approaching, President Barrow turned for help to his predecessor, Mr. Jammeh. Mr. Jammeh resides in exile in Equatorial Guinea, however nonetheless, regardless of a cut up in his get together, enjoys appreciable help in Gambia, notably in his dwelling area of Foni, the place in final yr’s election his faction received all 5 parliamentary seats.

Some victims mentioned Mr. Barrow couldn’t be severe about prosecuting Mr. Jammeh whereas on the identical time looking for his political backing.

Mr. Barrow succeeded in successful the help of a part of Mr. Jammeh’s former get together, and it was sufficient to return Mr. Barrow to energy. But Mr. Jammeh himself refused to endorse Mr. Barrow — at one level even calling him a “donkey.” By spurning Mr. Barrow, Mr. Jammeh made it politically possible for the present president to pursue the prosecution of his predecessor, analysts mentioned.

“What actually saved us right now,” mentioned Ms. Ndow, “is Yahya Jammeh’s madness. His madness actually came in handy this time, because he shot himself in the foot.”

Ms. Ndow’s father was forcibly disappeared below Mr. Jammeh’s direct orders and is presumed to have been killed. Together with many different victims, she turned a private tragedy right into a dogged marketing campaign to carry perpetrators to account.

But, she mentioned, each step has been a combat, with the federal government failing to analyze what seemed to be clear circumstances of abuse, and permitting confessed murderers to proceed their employment within the armed forces and releasing them from custody into close-knit Gambian society. Sometimes, they ran into kinfolk of their victims.

And even after the Barrow-Jammeh alliance didn’t materialize, Mr. Barrow appointed two of his predecessor’s highest-ranking officers as speaker and deputy speaker of Gambia’s House of Assembly.

Madi Jobarteh, a Gambian human rights activist who was recently the subject of a personal attack by President Barrow, mentioned that the federal government’s response on Wednesday, coincidentally Mr. Jammeh’s 57th birthday, was encouraging total.

“It appears the government has now mustered courage,” and begun addressing justice points, he mentioned, after a “disappointing start over the years.”

And Fatou Baldeh, who wrote a report documenting sexual violence in the course of the Jammeh period, mentioned that the official assertion “lays the foundation for justice and reparations.”

But the federal government has not detailed the way it will undertake any prosecutions, or on what timeline.

Several senior figures in Mr. Jammeh’s authorities utilized for amnesty and have been denied it. One suggestion of the reality fee was not accepted: to bar from workplace the chief of the National Intelligence Agency who, after Mr. Barrow grew to become president, had renovated the cells the place torture victims have been held, destroying very important proof like graffiti and bloodstains. He stays in his place.

For Ms. Ndow, it was clear that although the wrestle had been lengthy, it must proceed.

“It took five years of barking, but clearly you’re listening,” she mentioned, referring to the federal government. “And we’re not going anywhere.”

“Hopefully other Gambians don’t have to go through what I’ve gone through,” she added.

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