Ghanaians who survived the unlawful killing of 56 West African migrants in Gambia and the victims’ families have requested to testify at the ongoing Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC).
The TRRC has briefly heard testimonies on the incident with confessions from Omar Jallow and Malick Jatta who were involved in the executions.
In a letter jointly signed by Martin Kyere, survivor of the killings and William Nyarko, Coordinator of the Jammeh2Justice Ghana campaign, they said the Ghanaians qualify as victims under the TRRC, Act 2017.
The full text of the letter from the Ghanaians to TRRC executive secretary Baba Galleh Jallow reads:
“We write on behalf of Ghanaian victims of the 2005 unlawful killings in the Gambia; Mr. Martin Kyere, the survivor of the unlawful killings; Messrs Robert Essien, Yaw Owusu, and Daniel Amankwa who were detained without trial for eleven months in the Gambia, and the Jammeh2Justice Ghana Coalition, to request for guidance on how the victims can participate in the proceedings at the ongoing victim-centred Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission in the Gambia.
Standing as Victims Within the Meaning of TRRC, Act 2017 All three categories of persons, including the victims’ families, qualify as victims within the meaning of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, Act 2017.The Act defines a victim as: (a) a person who, individually or together with other persons, suffered harm in the form of physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, pecuniary loss or a substantial impairment of rights- (i) as a result of a violation or abuse of human rights, or (c) the relatives or dependents of such victims as may be determined by the commission.
In addition, the abuses suffered by the victims are within the meaning of the Act: “human rights violations or abuses” include – (a) The commission of acts of torture, unlawful killings,….enforced disappearances of persons, inhumane and degrading treatment; whether committed in isolation or as part of a crime against humanity; …”
The matter of the unlawful killings, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, and enforced disappearances of 56 West African migrants, including approximately 44 Ghanaian migrants, which is well known in the Gambia, Ghana and globally, became a subject matter of the proceedings at the TRRC recently. On 23rd July, 2019, the world learned from the TRRC proceedings that two Gambian soldiers working for a hit squad controlled by former President Yahya Jammeh admitted to participating in the 2005 execution of the 56 West African migrants, including 44 Ghanaians on the orders of Jammeh.
Lieutenant Malick Jatta and Corporal Omar A. Jallow revealed to the TRRC that the migrants were executed by the “Junglers” squad, a paramilitary force that took orders from Jammeh, across the Gambian border in Senegalese territory. “We were told they were mercenaries,” Jatta said, adding 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.”
Mr. Kyere survived the massacre and the bodies of eight Ghanaian migrants were returned to Ghana for burial. However, the remaining bodies of the approximately 38 Ghanaian migrants have still not been found, deepening the mental injury, emotional suffering, and torture of the victims’ families within the meaning of the Act.
In the case of Messrs Essien, Owusu, and Amankwa, they were part of the 56 migrants who were captured and detained by the Gambian Police in Banjul on or about July 23rd, 2005.
The migrants were separated into groups and the three were detained at the Gambian Police Headquarters for eleven months without trial until a court ordered their release.
They have not been provided compensation for their unlawful detention since their release in 2006.
The human rights violations suffered by the Ghanaian victims in the Gambia in 2005 is a matter of significant interest to human rights-centered civil society organizations in Ghana and have called for justice for these victims and their families since the matter broke in 2005. In 2018, a civil society coalition ‘The Jammeh2Justice Ghana Coalition’ was formed to collaborate with the victims and their families to advocate justice for them.
We look forward to the guidance from the Commission to enable the victims to participate in the proceedings at the victim-centred Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission in the Gambia.”
Meanwhile the The Standard has contacted the TRRC’s executive secretary Babagalleh Jallow who confirmed the communication from the Ghanaians.
“We in fact replied and informed them that the 2005 migrant killing is part of the items the TRRC will have sessions on and when we reach there, we will invite Mr Kyere and few others to the sessions,” Mr Jallow said.