(JollofNews) – The absolute and non-derogable prohibition against torture is routinely disregarded by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s regime, which has subjected countless Gambians to torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment and treatment for over twenty years.
In light of this widespread practice and in connection with the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (June 26), the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is highlighting the story of one Gambian torture victim: Musa Saidykhan.
In 2006, Saidykhan was arrested, detained, and tortured by Gambian security forces for three weeks for exercising his right to freedom of expression and press freedom. In 2007, the MFWA assisted Musa in suing The Gambia at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court of Justice. In 2010, the Court ruled in favour of Musa, finding that The Gambia had violated his human rights to personal liberty, fair trial, and personal dignity under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Court also awarded US$200,000 in compensatory damages.
Human rights courts, such as the ECOWAS Court, can invaluably support victims by providing remedies and reparations. Musa himself described courts as “the consolation centers of those who seek redress.” Unfortunately, due to implementation failures, Musa’s consolation was short-lived.
In an email interview with us, Musa described his initial excitement at the Court’s decision, followed by disappointment about the judgment’s lack of teeth: