TRRC: gross rights violation, mass cover up by the state on April 10 and 11 students’ demonstration

Mar 9, 2022, 1:15 PM | Article By: Ali Jaw

The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) has revealed gross human rights violations executed against students on April 10 and 11 and mass cover-up in the aftermath of the illegal acts by the state.

The April 10 and 11, 2000 Students’ Demonstration was sparked by two incidents involving students, which The Gambia Students Union (GAMSU) felt was not adequately addressed by government.

The first incident involved 15-year-old Ebrima Barry in Grade 10 at Forster’s Technical High School in Brikama, who died shortly after being physically assaulted by fire officers in Brikama.

"The second incident was the rape of Binta Manneh, Grade 7 student of Brikama Ba Upper Basic School... by a security officer, when she came to represent her school at the inter Secondary Schools Sports Competition at the Independence Stadium, Bakau."

"In line with their obligation of safeguarding the welfare of their members, GAMSU engaged the government to seek redress." The negotiations failed.

GAMSU then decided to hold a ‘limited peaceful demonstration on 10 April 2000, and students were to converge at the gate of Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) at Kanifing.

They later met with the former Vice President to solve the matter amicably.

However, "the meeting with the former Vice President, Isatou Njie Saidy, on April 10, 2000 was overtaken by events."

"Things turned out differently. April 10, 2000, hundreds of students had already converged outside the premises of GTTI.

"Thereafter, the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) and later The Gambia National Army (GNA) were deployed to disperse the students."

"Some of the senior security officers including the then Army Commander Baboucarr Jatta, and the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP), Sankung Badjie, were also on the ground. The then Minister of Interior, Ousman Badjie was also present."

"With no coherent plan as to how to handle the situation, it spiralled out of control when shots were fired by the security to dispel the protesting students and the students responded by throwing stones at the security personnel."

"To escape from the assault by the security forces the converged students ran away in different directions."

The security forces chased them and beat and arrested a good number of them. They also fired tear gas and bullets"

"On April 11, 2000 when news of the events of the April 10, 2000 student demonstrations reached the rural areas, the students decided to come out in solidarity and support their peers who were killed, wounded, brutalised and detained."

"In handling the situation the students were manhandled, physically assaulted and shot at with live rounds."

"Two (2) died in the Brikamaba area, others were seriously wounded and hospitalised. Some were forcefully detained at Armitage High School and Janjanbureh prisons.

"In total, 12 students, two toddlers and a Red Cross volunteer were killed by State Security officers during the April 10 and 11, 2000 incident. One of the children was a three 3-year-old toddler who was shot in the head and the third was a child trampled upon in a stampede when the students were fleeing from the PIU."

The evidence revealed that Yahya Jammeh instructed Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy to “take care of the bastards in whatever way, in whatever form”. The Commission concludes that these instructions were an order to shoot the student demonstrators, the report states.

"The government also tried to cover up the illegal acts of the Army by saying that the shooting started from the students knowing same to be false."

"Yahya Jammeh and Isatou Njie Saidy are responsible for the arbitrary arrest, unlawful detention, torture and rape."

"Jai Sowe, Officer Commanding Banjul Police Station, unlawfully authorised the supply of firearms and ammunition to Police Officers including Gorgui Mboob, Yorro Mballow and Ousman Cham."

The report also states that Momodou Ceesay and PIU officers under his command violated the rights of students by beating, torturing and unlawfully arresting 6 students

"Baboucarr Sowe failed in his responsibility as officer commanding operations to ensure that the operational orders were promptly disseminated to the relevant divisional commanders. He also failed in his responsibility by not taking control over the PIU officers on the ground amidst chaos and disorganisation."

"Baboucarr Jatta failed as Army Commander to discipline his men involved in the unlawful shootings and killing of students at Brikamaba as well as the unlawful arrests, detention and torture of these students."

"Yahya Jammeh as Commander in Chief of The Gambia Armed Forces should be prosecuted for all the atrocities against students...by reason of: (i)he orders and instructions he had given. (ii)Failing to investigate and prosecute members of the security forces who committed the violation and for seeking to seal them from responsibility via the Indemnity Act."

Isatou Njie Saidy, Baboucarr Jatta and Ousman Badjie should be prosecuted for the rights violations.

"By the Commissioners present and voting, the majority voted in favour of prosecuting Isatou Njie Saidy and imposing a ban on her from holding public office for a period of ten (10) years and Yahya Jammeh is banned from holding public office for life for their roles in the massacre."

The report also states Baboucarr Jatta be prosecuted and banned for 10 years for the unlawful crimes committed

"Abdou Giri Njie should be prosecuted for the unlawful arrest, detention, torture and for the unlawful shooting resulting in the deaths and injury of two students, Sainey Nybally and Ousman Sabally."

"Corporal Lamin Camara should be removed from office if he is currently employed and banned from holding any public office for five (5) years for knowingly providing false information."

"The report holds that all those recommended above for prosecution should be banned from holding public office for not less than 5 years, if they have not been prosecuted or if granted amnesty.