Posted by News Express | 17 May 2018 | 1,877 times
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and TRIAL International have accused a paramilitary unit controlled by former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh of summarily executing more than 50 Ghanaian, Nigerian and other West African migrants in July 2005.
Interviews with 30 former Gambian officials, including 11 officers directly involved in the incident, revealed that the migrants, who were bound for Europe but were suspected of being mercenaries intent on overthrowing Jammeh, were murdered after having been detained by Jammeh’s closest deputies in the army, navy, and police forces.
The witnesses identified the “Junglers”, a notorious unit that took its orders directly from Jammeh, as those who carried out the killings.
“The West African migrants weren’t murdered by rogue elements, but by a paramilitary death squad taking orders from President Jammeh.
“Jammeh’s subordinates then destroyed key evidence to prevent international investigators from learning the truth,” counsel at HRW Reed Brody said yesterday.
Martin Kyere, the sole known Ghanaian survivor; the families of the disappeared; the family of Saul N’dow, another Ghanaian killed under Jammeh; and Ghanaian human rights organisations on May 16, called on the Ghanaian government to investigate the new evidence and potentially seek Jammeh’s extradition and prosecution in Ghana.
Jammeh’s 22-year rule was marked by widespread abuses, including forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and arbitrary detention. He sought exile in Equatorial Guinea in January 2017 after losing the December 2016 presidential election to Adama Barrow.
The insiders interviewed by TRIAL International and HRW include some of the highest-ranking security commanders in the Gambian government at the time, as well as several officials present at the arrest, detention, and transfer of the migrants, a Jungler, who witnessed the killings, and two who participated in a subsequent cover-up. Another Jungler, who witnessed the killings, was interviewed on the radio.
They said that the migrants – including some 44 Ghanaians and several Nigerians – were arrested in July 2005 at a beach where they had landed, then transferred to the Gambian Naval Headquarters in Banjul, the capital.
They were detained there in the presence of the inspector general of police, the director general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the chief of the defence staff, and the commander of the National Guards. At least two of them were in telephone contact with Jammeh during the operation. The head and several members of the paramilitary Junglers were also there.
The West African migrants, it was gathered, weren’t murdered by rogue elements, but by a paramilitary death squad taking orders from Jammeh. (The Nation)
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