The Gambia: Milestone for justice as Germany sentences death squad member

The Gambia: Milestone for justice as Germany sentences death squad member - Media

Gambian journalist Deyda Hydara

In a historic decision announced on Thursday, 30 November 2023, a German court sentenced death squad member Bai Lowe to life in prison for crimes against humanity during the oppressive regime of former dictator Yahya Jammeh. These crimes included the assassination of journalist Deyda Hydara, founder of the newspaper The Point and former employee for media outlet Agence France Presse (AFP).

ARTICLE 19 applauds this landmark verdict, acknowledging it as a significant act of justice, an important stride towards accountability and recognition of the suffering endured by victims  of the Jammeh regime and their families. Bai Lowe’s conviction for crimes against humanity, murder, and attempted murder is a crucial step in acknowledging the pain inflicted during this dark chapter in The Gambia’s history.

On Thursday, 30 November, 2023, a court in the city of Celle in northern Germany, pronounced Bai Lowe guilty on all counts of crimes against humanity. The verdict included a life sentence for his involvement in the 2004 assassination of Deyda Hydara, the 2006 murder of a former soldier, and the attempted assassination of a lawyer.

The Junglers, a unit Jammeh used to carry out illegal killing orders, played a menacing role in intimidating the Gambian population and suppressing opposition voices. The sentencing of Bai Lowe underscores the global commitment to justice through universal jurisdiction, emphasising that individuals can and will be held accountable for their actions, regardless of where these crimes were committed.

In reaction to the decision, Alfred Nkuru Bulakali, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 Senegal and West Africa, said : ‘This trial, the first addressing human rights violations in The Gambia during the Jammeh era, sets a precedent for accountability. We honour the courage of individuals like Deyda Hydara, a dedicated journalist who paid the ultimate price for challenging authoritarian regimes. Hydara’s legacy serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by those who sought truth and justice. This is a strong signal sent to the perpetrators of crimes against journalists and crimes against humanity that they can not enjoy impunity forever.’

ARTICLE 19 hopes this verdict signals the beginning of a broader effort to bring all perpetrators of human rights abuses during the Jammeh era to justice. Collaboration between nations and international bodies is crucial to ensuring that the long arm of the law reaches all those responsible for these crimes.

ARTICLE 19 express solidarity with the victims, their families, and those tirelessly pursuing justice. We recognise that the pursuit of accountability for human rights abuses is a collective responsibility. This verdict represents a significant stride in the ongoing global fight for justice and human rights.

For more information, please contact:

Maateuw Mbaye, Program Assistant, ARTICLE 19 Senegal/West Africa Email: [email protected]    T: +221785958337

Aissata Diallo Dieng, Office Manager, ARTICLE 19 Senegal/West Africa Email: [email protected]    T:+221338690322