Families of victims of the 2005 Murders of 44 Ghanaian Migrants have launched a major campaign with the support of some human rights groups to seek justice and bring former Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh to book.
These renewed calls for justice are coming on the back of fresh evidence from Human Rights Watch and Trail International that links Jammeh to the killings.
For 13 years all efforts to seek justice became difficult because Mr. Jammeh remained in power, but with the Gambian leader now out of power families of victims are now speaking out hoping their stories would bring Jammeh to justice.
Isaac Mensah, whose father was a victim of the killings was only 13 when his father disappeared while in the Gambia. Now 26 he talks about how difficult life has been for his family.
“Its not easy at all, like when you see my mother now you will be sad for her, its not easy but I know with God all things will be possible. My grandfather has been taking responsibility for till now, but I have other two siblings, for them they are not fortunate so they could not get any job,” Mensah told Africa Feeds.
A previous UN-backed investigative report apparently concluded that Yahya Jammeh who is now in exile in Equatorial Guinea didn’t order the killings. Some amount of money was then given to the Ghanaian government to compensate the families.
Officials of the Human Rights Watch have now interviewed survivors and others who witnessed the horrific incident following the exit of Jammeh from power in 2017.
Senior counsel for Human Rights Watch, Reed Brody said there is clear evidence that Jammeh ordered the killings.
“What we can say is that the Ghanaian migrants and other migrants were killed not by rogue elements acting on their own, they were killed by a death squad, the jungles, who took their orders directly from Yahya Jammeh. We can also say that a cover up, was operated, so that international and Ghanaian investigators couldn’t get to the truth of the matter,” Brody said.
Martin Kyere who is the only known Ghanaian survivor of the killings according to the Human Rights Watch was detained in a Banjul police station, then driven into the forest. He explained how he escaped in an interview with HRW.
“We were in the back of a pickup truck,” he said. “One man complained that the wires binding us were too tight and a soldier with a cutlass sliced him on the shoulder, cutting his arm, which bled profusely.
It was then that I thought, ‘We’re going to die.’ But as the truck went deeper into the forest, I was able to get my hands free. I jumped out from the pickup and started to run into the forest. The soldiers shot toward me but I was able to hide. I then heard shots from the pickup and the cry, in Twi [Ghanaian language], ‘God save us!’”
Kyere has helped the Ghanaian authorities identify many of the dead and travelled around Ghana to locate their families and promote efforts to seek justice.
Human Rights Watch and some local rights groups are now launching a campaign to ensure that Jammeh is brought to justice now that he is out of office.
A representative of the families seeking justice told reporters in Accra that all they need is Justice and for Yahya Jammeh to be brought to book.
“Let what is supposed to be done to him be done to him, let everything that needs to be done for the victims, me being part of it, for us to be at a safer side, if everything that is supposed to be done, please people in power, whatever that you can do to help us, help us,” the representative said.
Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo Addo is now expected in the coming days to respond to this demand for justice after receiving a petition to that effect, and all eyes will be on him to lead the way.