How Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh ordered the execution of 44 Ghanaians

Former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh

Two Gambian soldiers working for a hit squad controlled by former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh, have admitted to killing 44 Ghanaians on the orders of the former President.

Information available to The Ghana Report reveals how the former leader of Gambia ordered the murder of some 56 West African migrants, 44 of them, Ghanaians.

Lieutenant Malick Jatta and Corporal Omar A. Jallow revealed to Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) that the migrants were executed by the “Junglers” squad across the Gambian border in Senegalese territory.

“We were told they were mercenaries,” Jatta said. Jatta said that he shot and killed one of the migrants. “I heard people shouting in the forest saying ‘save us, Jesus.’”

Jallow told the TRRC that Lt Col Solo Bojang, the leader of the operation, told the men that “the order from Yahya Jammeh is that they are all to be executed.”

The confessions by Jatta and Jallow corroborate findings in a May 2018 report by Human Rights Watch and TRIAL that the migrants were murdered by the “Junglers.” Jammeh has always denied involvement in the killings.

“The testimony of Jammeh’s henchmen confirm that the migrants were murdered by paramilitary death squad taking orders from President Jammeh,” said Reed Brody, counsel at Human Rights Watch. “It is now time to get to the bottom of Jammeh’s responsibility.”

Jammeh is currently in Equatorial Guinea, where he sought exile after losing the 2016 presidential election to Adama Barrow. Jammeh’s rule was marked by widespread abuses, including forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, torture and arbitrary detention.

Jatta said after killing one migrant, he saw another of the migrants running to hide at a distance of about 20 meters from him. “I can say I saved this person. If I wanted to kill him, at 20 meters sir, I will not miss my target,” Jatta told TRRC Chief Counsel Essa Faal.

It is possible that Jatta was referring to the one survivor of the incident, Martin Kyere. Kyere had dodged gunmen’s bullets after jumping from a truck that was carrying the detained migrants before the Junglers killed them.

Following publication of the Human Rights Watch and TRIAL report, the government of Ghana said it was weighing re-opening its investigation into the July 2005 massacre. One year later, however, the government has taken no action. A coalition of Ghana groups, led by the former Head of the Ghana Commission on Human Rights and Administrative, CHRAJ, Justice Emile Short, has called on the government to “expedite actions, steps; legal, political, diplomatic to make sure justice is served.” The Ghana coalition for justice includes the Africa Center for International Law and Accountability, Amnesty International, CDD-Ghana, POS Foundation, Media Foundation for West Africa, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and the Human Rights Advocacy CenterThe survivor, Martin Kyere, reacted to today’s news by calling on the Ghana government to move forward with the investigation. “We want our government to say, yes, it is time to find justice for the 44 people who were killed,” said Kyere.

In addition to Ghanaians, the massacre victims included citizens from Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, and Côte d’Ivoire.

On Monday, Jatta had confessed to involvement in 3 executions, including the killing of journalist Deyda Hydara in 2004.

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