2 new witnesses fly in for TRRC testimony

Feb 26, 2021, 11:14 AM | Article By: Sanna Camara

Martin Kyere, the sole known survivor of the 2005 massacre of 44 West African nationals by ‘Junglers’ in The Gambia, and William Nyarko, executive director of the Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA), are scheduled to fly into Banjul to testify before the TRRC in a bid to shed light on the incident that was carried allegedly on orders of the former President.

About forty-four Ghanaians,  nine Nigerians,  two Togolese, and nationals of Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, and Senegal are believed to have been killed over several days in July 2005. Among those scheduled to testify before the TRRC is Martin Kyere of Ghana, the sole known survivor.

US based rights group, the Human Rights Watch said previous official attempts to investigate the massacre have been stymied or flawed. Ghana attempted to investigate the killings in 2005 and 2006, but was blocked by the then-Jammeh government.

“In 2008, the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) 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 The Gambia’s security services ‘acting on their own’ for the massacre,” a statement released yesterday morning said.

The UN/ECOWAS report has never been made public despite repeated requests by the victims and by five UN human rights experts.

Of particular interest to such rights groups as Swiss based Trial International is the testimony of Martin Kyere, which may help the organization in their investigations into crimes by former Police IG and Interior Minister Ousman Sonko.

“The TRRC hearings are a source of background information and details of the abuses that took place in The Gambia under Yahya Jammeh’s regime. This information is also an important source for TRIAL International’s investigations,” the right group said.

Some of those yet to come are of particular interest to TRIAL International, such as the massacre of the West Africans in 2005, or the second parts of the sessions devoted to sexual and gender-based violence, or to the “Junglers”, it said.

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,’ said Human Rights Watch.