GAMBIA. Banjul: The Human Rights Watch has called upon the Gambian government to investigate and prosecute former president Yahya Jammeh for various human rights abuses and killings during his 22 years in office.
In a report titled “Truth and Justice in Gambia” released on May 24, the rights body interviewed victims of atrocities in the Jammeh era as well as senior government officials.
“The government should ensure that Jammeh and his accomplices are held to account. Truth telling has made a vital contribution but its not the end of the road,” said Reed Brod, senior Counsel at Human Rights Watch.
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Hearing of atrocities by Jammeh started in 2019 through the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission( TRRC).
Senior officials of the Jammeh regime testified against him. Among them was Sanna Sabally, Edward Singhateh, Demba Njie and Alagie Martin.
They were first vice president of a military junta,junta vice chairman and defense minister,Army chief of staff and Commander of the state Guard respectively.
Jammeh, according to the testimonies, is said to have ordered the killing of two American businessmen of Gambian descent Alhajie Ceesay and Ebou Jobe in 2013. Their bodies were chopped and heads removed with orders from Jammeh.
A newspaper editor, Dayda Hydara, was also killed in 2004, and Jammeh is said to have offered $1250 to each of the assassins as a token of appreciation.
Victims and former government officials who testified at the hearings tied Jammeh to the killing and torture of political opponents, the murder of about 59 West African migrants, and “witch hunts” in which hundreds of people were arbitrarily detained, among other crimes.
They also alleged that Jammeh raped and sexually assaulted women brought to him and personally ran a sham treatment program that forced HIV-positive Gambians to give up their medicine and put themselves under Jammeh’s personal care, a section of the report by Human Rights Watch reads.The directive caused over 30 deaths.
Fatou Jallow, the 2014 Miss Gambia beauty pageant recipient said Jammeh raped her when she was 19 years old.
Apart from the Human Rights Watch, other Gambians seeking justice for the victims includes Fatoumatta Sandeng, whose father was a victim of the former president’s atrocities.
She says, “we need justice before we reconcile and move on”
Her father Solo Sandeng was an opposition leader who was murdered in custody in 2016. Fatoumatta is now the spokesperson for a grouping seeking prosecution for Jammeh.
Some of Jammeh’s accomplices are aleady facing trial. They include Ousmane Sonko in Switzerland, Michael Sang Correa in the USA and Bai L in Germany. He himself lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea.