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AFEX welcomes guilty verdict of former Gambian Minister 

On May 15, 2024, the Federal Criminal Tribunal a.k.a Federal Criminal Court (FCC) in Bellinzona, Switzerland, found Ousman Sonko, Former Interior Minister of The Gambia, guilty of committing crimes against humanity, including the torture of two journalists.

Sonko faces 20 years imprisonment. He was initially arrested in Switzerland in January 2017 after TRIAL International filed a criminal denunciation against him.

The sentence is another historic leap on the path to justice following the heinous human right violations committed under the reign of former president of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh.

Ousman Sonko’s arrest follows the first historic conviction linked to Yahya Jammeh’s 22 years reign of terror in The Gambia, of Bai Lowe in Germany on November 30, 2023. Bai Lowe was identified to be a member of the “Junglers” paramilitary junta, formed by Yahya Jammeh, and was discovered to be the driver for the unit whose role was principal in the murder of journalist Deyda Hydara in 2004.

Ousman Sonko served as Interior Minister from 2006 to 2016 and was instrumental in executing Jammeh’s systematic repression against his opponents, particularly journalists who were often detained and tortured by Gambian authorities for being vocal about the inactions of Jammeh according to media reports.

The negative impact of Jammeh’s reign in The Gambia revolutionised the conduct of journalism in the country and ushered in a devaluation of journalism. This devaluation stifled journalism and led to a forced departure of many journalists from the profession.

The African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) welcomes the outcome of the FCC as a major milestone in The Gambia’s quest for accountability and as a means of retributive justice for the journalists and other individuals who were unable to get justice for the human rights violations they suffered.

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