Founding Statement

of the International Independent Commission on the Death of Oury Jalloh

Thirteen years ago, Sierra Leone-born Oury Jalloh burned in the Dessau police station.  In order to ascertain the circumstances in which he died, an International Independent Commission was convened in Berlin on the 27th and 28th January 2018.  The members of the Commission are:

  • Mario Angelelli (Italy)
  • Dr Eddie Bruce-Jones (USA/ UK)
  • Fatou Ndour (Senegal/ Austria)
  • Arturo Salerni (Italy)
  • Bernard Schmid (Germany/ France)
  • Prof. Iyiola Solanke (UK)
  • Aboubakar Soumahoro (Côte d'Ivoire/ Italy)
  • Dr des Vanessa E. Thompson (Germany)

The members of the Commission observe, with concern, a growing number of attacks internationally by police on people of colour, migrants and socially disadvantaged people.  Some of these attacks have been fatal.  The Oury Jalloh case seems symptomatic of this phenomenon, and a civilian-led examination of police behaviour is urgently needed.    For this reason, the Commission has decided to base its work around the following points:

1.      a comprehensive account of the circumstances that led to the death of Oury Jalloh on 7th January 2005

2.      an extensive account of the reasons that the investigating authorities did not arrive at the possibility that someone killed Oury Jalloh until 13 years after his death.  In particular, it will examine whether the investigations were compromised by way of false assertions, manipulation of evidence, cover-ups through forensic analysis and medical examinations, and pressuring witnesses

3.      whether and, if so, what structural shortcomings in the investigation and prosecution of violations by police precluded a full understanding of the circumstances of his death

4.      What has brought about the (criminal) prosecution of relatives and friends of Oury Jalloh in their search for details around his death, who have called for years for expanding the investigation of members of the police to include the crime of murder

5.      Putting the circumstances that led to the death of Oury Jalloh within the social and historical context of Germany and Europe

The International Independent Commission, to fulfil its work, will contact the offices of the Prosecutor of Dessau, the General Prosecutor for the Federal State of Saxony Anhalt, and the General Federal Prosecutor in Karlsruhe, as well as the members of the state parliament in Magdeburg currently acting on the parliamentary legal committee dedicated to this matter.  The Commission will request full access to the documents in the investigation file and evidence from the Ministry of Justice of the State of Saxony Anhalt.