After years of denying ordering the murder of over 56 west african migrants in the Gambia, ex-leader Yahya Jammeh has now been implicated by some of his former soldiers.
Two Gambian soldiers who worked for Jammeh’s hit squad on Tuesday admitted to participating on Jammeh’s orders in the 2005 execution of the 56 West African migrants, including 44 Ghanaians.
Families of the Ghanaian victims last year launched a campaign with the support of human rights groups to seek justice and bring Jammeh to book.
These renewed calls for justice came on the back of fresh evidence from Human Rights Watch and Trail International that linked Jammeh to the killings.
For 13 years all efforts to seek justice became difficult because Mr. Jammeh remained in power, but families of victims are hoping latest revelations would bring him to justice.
What has been hidden was an official confirmation from the Jammeh camp about how the migrants was killed.
Lieutenant Malick Jatta and Corporal Omar A. Jallow revealed to Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission(TRRC) on Tuesday that the migrants were executed by the “Junglers” squad across the Gambian border in Senegalese territory.
“We were told they were mercenaries,” Jatta said.
He confessed to have shot and killed one of the migrants.
“I heard people shouting in the forest saying ‘save us Jesus,’” Jatta said.
Jallow also 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.”
Yahya 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.
He said “It is now time to get to the bottom of Jammeh’s responsibility.”
In exile but still in sight
Yahya Jammeh ruled Gambia for 22 years until he was forced out of power in 2017.
But his country has been left in a state of bitterness due to the several reports of extrajudicial killings, torture and forced disappearances under that regime.
The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) of Gambia has been hearing stories of witnesses as it investigates happenings during the Jammeh era.
The commission’s work will primarily offer some compensation to individuals who suffered torture, molestation and other crimes including killings under Mr. Jammeh’s regime.
There are eleven commissioners who are hearing the stories of witnesses and hope to document the scale of the abuses by October 2020.