The families of the 44 Ghanaians who were killed in The Gambia and the lone survivor, Martin Kyere, have welcomed the decision of the government to study their request for the extradition and trial of Yahya Jammeh, the former Gambian President, in Ghana.
The request followed a report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and TRIAL International showing that the migrants were murdered by Jammeh’s death squad — “The Junglers”— after having been delayed by Jammeh’s closest deputies in the army, navy and police.
The families, in a letter signed by the lone survivor, noted that the response from the government was a step in the right direction for the murdered persons who were breadwinners of their families.
They recounted the repeated calls by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo about the importance of protecting Ghanaian migrants abroad and the need for them to be treated humanely.
Investigate and prosecute Jammeh
“Investigating and prosecuting those responsible for their murder is a step in the right direction,” the families said.
They also added that they were encouraged that the government of Ghana, through its spokesperson, Demba Jawo, had pledged its commitment to cooperate with any request from the government of Ghana to investigate the massacre.
“We, therefore, look forward with great expectations to the outcome of the government’s review after it has studied the report to extradite Yahya Jammeh to Ghana to face prosecution. We remain optimistic that the government of Ghana will seek justice for our fathers, brothers, uncles and indeed, all Ghanaians,” they pleaded.
International human rights groups, the HRW and TRIAL International, recently initiated a campaign to get Mr Jammeh extradited to Ghana to stand trial for the gruesome murder of some 44 Ghanaians in The Gambia in 2005.
That move followed new evidence gathered by the two bodies which pointed to the fact that former President Jammeh was complicit in the murder of the 44.
The latest revelation stands in sharp contrast to a report by a joint Economic Community of West African States/United Nations (ECOWAS/UN) team, which though not made public, concluded that the Gambian government was not “directly or indirectly complicit” in the deaths and disappearances, but rather “rogue elements” in The Gambia’s security services “acting on their own” were probably responsible.
However, HRW and TRIAL International said a paramilitary unit controlled by then Gambian President Jammeh summarily executed more than 50 Ghanaians, Nigerians and other West African migrants in July 2005.
Mr Reed Brody, a lawyer at the HRW, said following the exit of ex-President Jammeh, the organisation had interviews with 30 former Gambian officials, including 11 officers directly involved in the incident.
The interviews, Mr Brody said, revealed 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, he noted, 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. Jammeh’s subordinates then destroyed key evidence to prevent international investigators from learning the truth,” Mr Brody said.