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Victims and representatives from non-governmental organizations stand in front of the Celle Higher Regional Court in Celle, Germany. © 2022 Whitney-Martina Nosakhare/Human Rights Watch

(Berlin) – A German court in the city of Celle is expected to deliver a verdict on November 30, 2023, in the first trial in Germany for crimes committed in The Gambia, Gambian and international civil society groups said today in releasing a question and answer document about the trial.

The groups are: the African Network against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances (ANEKED), the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the Gambian Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Rose Lokissim Association, the Solo Sandeng Foundation, and TRIAL International.

This trial is possible because Germany recognizes universal jurisdiction over certain serious crimes under international law, allowing for the investigation and prosecution of these crimes no matter where they were committed and regardless of the nationality of the suspects or victims.

The trial concerns Bai L., an alleged member of the “Junglers,” a paramilitary unit also known as the “Patrol Team,” which was set up by then-president Yahya Jammeh in the mid-1990s. Jammeh’s 22-year rule was marked by systematic oppression and widespread human rights violations, including torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and sexual violence against actual and perceived opponents.

German prosecutors accuse Bai L. of being a Junglers driver involved in the attempted murder of Ousman Sillah, a lawyer; the murder of Deyda Hydara, a journalist; the attempted murder of Ida Jagne and Nian Sarang Jobe, who workedwith the independent newspaper Hydara; and the murder of a former Gambian soldier, Dawda Nyassi.

The verdict in the Bai L. case represents a major step in the search for justice for years of abuses committed under Jammeh’s rule in The Gambia, the groups said. The Bai L. trial reinforces the role that governments like Germany can play in advancing justice for atrocities committed abroad under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Civil society groups will hold a news conference online after the verdict is issued, scheduled for

3:30pm CET at the following link:

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