TRRC reveals findings over execution of 67 W/A migrants 

Jan 12, 2022, 12:39 PM | Article By: Adama Tine 

The Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) that recently made its report public has revealed series of findings over the execution of 67 West African migrants under the orders of the former President Yahya Jammeh


The Commission underscores the consistency of the witnesses in relating the details of the arrest, enforced disappearance, and extrajudicial execution in The Gambia of over 67 unarmed West African economic migrants who the Jammeh regime perceived as mercenaries. 

The TRRC observes that even if they were criminals or in any other way breached Gambia’s laws, due process ought to have been followed. 

According to the report, all the witnesses who testified about this incident provided consistent accounts of the events which occurred in July 2005 and the subsequent period with a great degree of similarity. 

“The Commission is aware that economic migrants from various parts of West Africa embark on dangerous journeys by small boats with the hope of getting to Europe through the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, a phenomenon which became known as the ‘backway’. 

The incident the report revealed began in July 2005, when a group of economic migrants from West Africa, predominantly from Ghana, were told that they had to come to The Gambia to connect to a boat that would take them to Europe.

The report explained that on July 21, 2005, their boat set off from Mbour in Senegal and reached a place near Barra in the morning of July 22, 2005. Between five and seven passengers jumped off the boat, swam to the shore and entered Banjul. 

The report added that rest of the group tried to make contact with their agent in The Gambia, but to no avail. It continued that the migrants started looking for boats to cross over to Banjul to connect to the boat that would take them to Europe but upon that, police officers arrested and took them to Barra Police Station, where the names of the arrested migrants were recorded in the police station diary and were not told why they had been arrested.

However, the report further noted that by late night on the same day, the arrested migrants were transferred by boat from the Barra Police Station to the Navy Headquarters in Banjul. 

Numerous high-ranking officials, the report disclosed, gathered on that night at the Navy Headquarters, including Police Operation Commander Biran Mbye, former Navy Commander, Assan Sarr, Deputy Inspector General of Police Abou Njie, Ngorr Secka, Foday Barry, Baba Saho, Saddy Gassama and other senior NIA officials as well as Kawsu Camara (Bombardier) was also there.

“The Commission received evidence that this incident coincided with the 22 July “Revolution Day” celebration, the anniversary of the military takeover on July 22 1994 led by Yahya Jammeh.”

“President Jammeh and other high-ranking officials were attending the festivities at the July 22 Square in Banjul when he was informed that migrants had been apprehended,” the report noted.

“In each of those failed coups, he dealt brutally with the coupists. All throughout his presidency, President Jammeh was on guard and determined to crush any form of threat to his rule by all means necessary and in the most brutal manner for reasons of deterrence.”

“It may be concluded that when on July 22 2005 he was informed of migrants ashore, the fear and paranoia about a new possible coup gripped him, leading him to make a rushed decision, believing that the migrants were mercenaries or coup-plotters, led him to give direct orders to the Junglers to summarily execute the defenseless harmless migrants.”

Moreover, the report indicated that multiple witnesses testified that nothing in their appearance or behaviour suggested that they were more than migrants. The police officers who initially arrested them treated them as migrants and obtained their details.