A paramilitary death squad controlled by then-Gambian president Yahya Jammeh summarily executed more than 50 Ghanaian, Nigerian, and other West African migrants in July 2005, Human Rights W atch and TRIAL International said on Wednesday.
Interviews with 30 former Gambian officials, including 11 officers directly involved in the incident, reveal 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,” said Reedy Brody, counsel at Human Rights Watch.
“Jammeh’s subordinates then destroyed key evidence to prevent international investigators from learning the truth.”
Martin Kyere, the sole known Ghanaian survivor; the families of the disappeared; the family of Saul Ndow, another Ghanaian killed under Jammeh; and Ghanaian human rights organizations on May 16, 2018 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.