Sole Ghanaian survivor in Gambia massacre to testify at Truth Commission

The only Ghanaian survivor in the 2005 Gambia massacre is scheduled to testify in the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) of Gambia following its resumption on hearing February 22.

Martin Kyere escaped death in a moving truck conveying detained migrants meant to be killed.

The 2005 massacre, described as the largest loss of life during the rule of former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, involved over 50 West African migrants out of which 44 were Ghanaian, nine Nigerians, two Togolese, and nationals of Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia and Senegal were believed to have been killed over several days in July 2005.

In 2005 and 2006, Ghana, on her part attempted to investigate the murders but failed due to obstruction by the then-Jammeh government.

The United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 2018 also formed a joint investigative team, which produced a report in April 2009 that was said to have concluded that the Gambian government was not “directly or indirectly complicit” in the deaths and enforced disappearances.

It blamed “rogue” elements in Gambia’s security services “acting on their own” for the massacre.

The UN/ECOWAS report, however, despite repeated requests by five UN human rights experts and families of the victims was never made public.

According to a 2018 report by TRIAL International and Human Rights Watch, based on interviews with some 30 former Jammeh-era officials, it was revealed, however, that Jammeh’s closest associates in the army, the navy, and the police detained, the migrants, and then the “Junglers,” a unit of Gambian soldiers operating under Jammeh’s orders, were immediately executed.

TRIAL and Human Rights Watch also found that the Gambian government destroyed key evidence before the UN/ECOWAS team arrived.

In July 2019, three former Junglers testified publicly before the Truth Commission that they and 12 other Junglers had carried out the killings on Jammeh’s orders.

One of the officers, Omar Jallow, recalled that the operation’s leader told the men that “the order from … Jammeh is that they are all to be executed.”

Meanwhile, Mr Kyere, since his escape has been organising the families of the victims while fighting for justice.

“I have been fighting for 15 years for truth and for justice for my companions who were killed,” he said.

As the sole survivor, Martin Kyere will together with the Executive Director of the Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA), William Nyarko be in Banjul for the hearings.

The ACILA Boss coordinates the Jammeh2Justice Ghana campaign.

Credit: Myjoyonline

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