German Court Sentences Gambian Death Squad Member to Life Imprisonment for Crimes Against Humanity

German Court Sentences Gambian Death Squad Member To Life Imprisonment For Crimes Against Humanity

In a historic verdict, a German court has sentenced a member of a Gambian death squad to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity and other charges. The trial marked the first prosecution in Germany for abuses committed under former President Yahya Jammeh’s regime.

The individual, known to the media as Bai Lowe but identified as Bai L. by the German justice system, was found guilty of crimes against humanity, murder, and attempted murder in three cases. The court in Celle, located in northern Germany, delivered the verdict following the public prosecutor’s request.

The 48-year-old man was specifically convicted of participating in murders that took place in Gambia between 2003 and 2006, including the killing of AFP correspondent Deyda Hydara on December 16, 2004.

Bai Lowe served as a driver for the “Junglers,” a Gambian death squad established by the government in the mid-1990s to intimidate or eliminate opposition figures.

During a hearing in October 2022, the defendant denied any involvement in the crimes, as stated by his lawyer. The defence pleaded for his acquittal, but the court rejected these arguments.

Germany’s recognition of universal jurisdiction for serious crimes under international law enabled the trial to take place on its soil, regardless of the accused’s nationality or the location of the alleged crimes. The country has previously convicted individuals for atrocities committed during the Syrian civil war.

The specific charges against Bai Lowe included involvement in the attempted murder of lawyer Ousman Sillah, the murder of Deyda Hydara, the attempted murder of Ida Jagne and Nian Sarang Jobe (who worked for the newspaper co-founded by Hydara), and the murder of former Gambian soldier Dawda Nyassi.

Deyda Hydara himself claimed to have falsely accused himself of acts he did not commit, aiming to expose the cruelty of Yahya Jammeh’s regime (1994-2017). However, the court deemed this line of defence implausible, and the civil parties expressed their disappointment with Bai Lowe’s statement.

The verdict in Celle serves as a warning to others who committed crimes under the dictatorship, according to the victims’ relatives and NGOs. Reed Brody, a lawyer with the International Commission of Jurists working with the victims, stated, “The long arm of justice has caught up with Bai Lowe in Germany, as it is already catching up with Yahya Jammeh’s henchmen around the world and will hopefully also catch up with Jammeh himself.”

Parallel proceedings against Jammeh’s collaborators are ongoing outside of Gambia, including the trial of Ousman Sonko, former Minister of the Interior, in Switzerland since 2017 for crimes against humanity. Additionally, Michael Sang Correa, another individual associated with Jammeh, is set to stand trial in the United States.

While Yahya Jammeh resides in Equatorial Guinea, a country with no extradition agreement with Gambia, the Gambian government has initiated efforts to address the crimes committed during his 22-year dictatorship. In collaboration with the Organization of West African States, Gambia announced plans to establish a tribunal to prosecute the crimes of the former dictator.

The pursuit of justice for the victims of the Jammeh regime remains a significant challenge for President Adama Barrow, who assumed office following a surprise victory in the 2016 presidential election.


Source: Africa News

Ugandan Woman, Safina Namukwaya, Becomes Africa’s Oldest New Mother at 70, Gives Birth to Twins

Ugandan Woman, Safina Namukwaya, Becomes Africa's Oldest New Mother At 70, Gives Birth To Twins

In a remarkable milestone, Safina Namukwaya, a 70-year-old woman from Uganda, has become Africa’s oldest new mother after giving birth to twins. The boy and girl twins were delivered prematurely via cesarean section at 31 weeks and are currently in stable condition, receiving care in incubators.

Namukwaya expressed her joy upon learning about her pregnancy with twins during a routine checkup. “When I had a checkup, they told me I had twins, and I was very happy,” she shared.

The successful pregnancy and delivery were made possible through fertility treatment at the Women’s Hospital International and Fertility Centre, where Doctor Edward Tamale Sali supervised Namukwaya’s journey.

“This is an extraordinary achievement, delivering twins to Africa’s oldest mother at 70 years,” stated Dr. Sali, emphasising the significance of this milestone.

Notably, this is Namukwaya’s second delivery in three years, having given birth to a girl in 2020. Dr. Sali highlighted that age should not be the sole factor determining a woman’s ability to bear children. “Age is just a number. A young woman can also die of complications from pregnancy,” he explained. “And an old woman, if she is fit, can also survive.”

Thanks to advancements in medical technology and treatments, women like Namukwaya can now conceive and give birth even after reaching menopause, typically occurring between the ages of 45 to 55.

With the birth of the twins, Namukwaya has achieved the distinction of becoming Africa’s oldest new mother, showcasing the evolving possibilities in reproductive medicine.

This remarkable story serves as a testament to the progress and opportunities available to women who aspire to have children later in life. While it highlights the potential for older women to safely undergo pregnancies with appropriate medical support, it also sparks conversations about the ethical considerations and potential risks associated with advanced maternal age.

Nevertheless, Namukwaya’s journey is a source of inspiration and hope for many, demonstrating that age should not be a limiting factor in pursuing the dream of motherhood.


Source: Africa News

Kenyan Government Issues Warning and Evacuation Orders as Floods Claim Over 150 Lives

Kenyan Government Issues Warning And Evacuation Orders As Floods Claim Over 150 Lives

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki has issued a stern warning to residents near Masinga, Kamburu, Kindaruma, Gitaru, and Kiambere Dams along the Tana River in Kenya, urging them to relocate to safer areas due to the escalating risk of floods. The floods have already claimed the lives of over 150 people since last month, and the situation remains critical.

According to official records, more than 100,000 households, comprising approximately 462,160 individuals, have been displaced by the floods. The rising water levels in the dams, coupled with the continuous heavy rainfall, pose a significant threat of devastating floods that could disproportionately affect communities residing near these dams.

“To safeguard lives and ensure the well-being of all residents residing in close proximity to Masinga, Kamburu, Kindaruma, Gitaru, and Kiambere Dams, the government is taking measures to evacuate all individuals to secure locations,” warned Kindiki in a statement on Sunday.

Kindiki emphasised the importance of citizens heeding safety directives issued by relevant authorities, including the Meteorological Department. Remaining vigilant and following the guidance provided can help prevent further loss of life.

The government has pledged to inform individuals who are likely to be affected by the flooding. Their data and information have been gathered to facilitate a smooth evacuation process, should the need arise. Suitable relocation sites have been identified where evacuated residents will be accommodated until the rains subside. The government will ensure the availability of essential supplies, including food, non-food items, medicines, and other necessities.

Local leaders and administration officials from the national government will work together to execute the evacuation plan, prioritising the safety and well-being of those affected. The government remains committed to closely monitoring the situation brought about by the El Niño rains across various regions of the country. Swift and efficient responses to any emergencies that may arise will be a top priority.

During this challenging period, the safety and welfare of Kenyan citizens are of utmost importance. The government urges everyone to stay informed, remain cautious, and cooperate with authorities to mitigate the impact of the floods and protect lives.

Venezuelan Nonbinding Referendum Supports Territorial Claim on Guyana’s Oil-Rich Region

Venezuelan Nonbinding Referendum Supports Territorial Claim On Guyana's Oil Rich Region

In a nonbinding referendum held on Sunday, Venezuelan electoral authorities reported that 95 percent of voters approved of the nation’s territorial claim on a significant portion of neighbouring Guyana, a region known for its vast oil reserves. The consultation saw the participation of approximately 10.5 million out of Venezuela’s 20.7 million eligible voters, raising concerns in Guyana and the surrounding region about Venezuela’s intentions regarding the disputed territory.

Elvis Amoroso, the president of the National Electoral Council, hailed the outcome as an “evident and overwhelming victory for the ‘Yes’ in this consultative referendum.” The Venezuelan government aimed to strengthen its century-old claim to the oil-rich Essequibo territory governed by Guyana through this referendum.

To accommodate voters already present at polling stations, electoral officials extended the voting period by two hours, closing at 8:00 pm (0000 GMT). Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino addressed the nation on state television, describing the day as a celebration of national sovereignty and emphasising the people’s resounding support.

Meanwhile, in Guyana, thousands of citizens formed human chains in solidarity with their government, expressing their commitment to the country’s borders. The president of Guyana, Irfaan Ali, reassured the population that the nation’s borders were secure and urged them not to fear.

It is important to note that the referendum is nonbinding, and the people of Essequibo did not participate in the vote. Thus, the immediate impact of the referendum’s outcome is expected to be minimal. The Maduro government has repeatedly stated that it does not seek to invade or annex the disputed territory, as feared by some in Guyana.

Tensions between the two nations have been escalating since Guyana received bids for offshore oil exploration blocks in September, and a significant oil discovery was announced in October. Guyana’s petroleum reserves have been compared to those of Kuwait, boasting the highest reserves per capita globally.

In an attempt to sway public opinion, the Maduro government released a video on Sunday suggesting that some Guyanese citizens would prefer to be under Venezuelan rule. The footage allegedly showed a group of Indigenous Pemon adults in Guyana lowering their nation’s flag and raising the Venezuelan flag while singing the Venezuelan national anthem.

Venezuela has laid claim to the vast Essequibo territory for decades, comprising over two-thirds of Guyana’s landmass, despite its relatively small population of 125,000 compared to Guyana’s total population. Caracas argues that the Essequibo River, located to the east of the region, represents the natural border between the two countries, as established under Spanish rule in 1777, and accuses Britain of unjustly appropriating Venezuelan lands in the 19th century.

On the other hand, Guyana asserts that the border was defined during the British colonial era and subsequently confirmed by a court of arbitration in 1899. The country maintains that the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nations’ highest judicial body, has validated this finding.

Guyana had sought to prevent the referendum through an appeal to the ICJ. Although the court urged Caracas not to take any actions that might affect the disputed territory, it did not specifically mention the referendum itself.

The referendum encompassed five questions, including proposals for the creation of a Venezuelan province named “Guyana Essequibo” and the granting of Venezuelan citizenship to the region’s inhabitants. It also included a call to reject the jurisdiction of the ICJ.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, attending the COP28 environment conference in Dubai, expressed his belief that the referendum would likely yield the result desired by President Maduro. However, he expressed hope that reason would prevail.

Despite the significance attributed to the referendum by Venezuela, some locals in Guyana downplayed its importance. Dilip Singh, a businessman residing in the disputed region, remarked, “The referendum is probably important for them, for Venezuela – not for us. I grew up in Essequibo… Now it is independent, and it will always be so.”


Source: France24