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Comment By UN High Commissioner Volker Türk After Swiss Court Jails Gambian Ex-Minister For Crimes Against Humanity

I welcome the conviction by a Swiss court of the former Minister of Interior of the Gambia, Ousman Sonko, on a series of crimes against humanity in connection with acts of unlawful killing, torture and arbitrary detention committed between 2000 and 2016.

The former minister’s conviction and sentencing to 20 years in prison are significant advances for victims in their pursuit of justice for serious crimes and other human rights violations committed in the Gambia during the rule of former president Yahya Jammeh, and a major global step in the fight against impunity. It is a further step towards ensuring perpetrators of grave crimes can be held to account beyond their countries’ borders through fair trials in other States.

I encourage other States to build on this and other recent examples and consider how in their own legal systems investigations and prosecutions can be conducted into suspected perpetrators of serious human rights violations, through universal or extraterritorial jurisdiction, regardless of where they may have been committed. It should also reinforce prosecution efforts in The Gambia itself.

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