Gambian students were joined by Attorney General Aboubacarr Baa Tambadou to say ‘never again’ to violent crackdowns on peaceful protests, 17 years after the killing of 14 student demonstrators.
Students were marching on the streets of the capital, Banjul and chanting “we want justice” and “never again.”
The students were killed by Gambian security forces after authorities failed to arrest and prosecute those accused of torturing and raping two students.
The ousted regime of Yahya Jammeh was non-responsive to the raping of a 13-year-old school girl and the torture-death of a schoolboy, which led to the protest that started in Serrekunda, 10 miles outside the island capital, Banjul.
Security forces from the riot police and Jammeh’s elite presidential guard opened fire on the protesters. Jammeh was out of the country and commands were trickled down through the former Vice President, Isatou Njie-Saidy.
Activists have been calling for the arrest of Njie-Saidy, who now lives in the Gambia as a private citizen after Jammeh’s defeat in last year’s elections.
Gambia is seeking to have a former police minister, who was the commander of the presidential guards at the time of the killings repatriated to face charges of human rights abuses committed under his watch.
Ousman Sonko has been held by Swiss authorities after falling out of favor with Jammeh in September and ran out of luck after failing to secure asylum in Sweden and Spain.
Jammeh’s APRC-backed parliament passed an indemnity law shielding those responsible for the killings from prosecution. It marked the beginning of impunity by security forces in the country.
Activists are refusing any attempt to have the April 10 and 11, 2000 killing of students be swept under the rock. They have vowed to assert pressure on the new government to have those culpable brought to justice.
Mr. Tambadou, a former UN prosecutor said the Gambia is set to start hearings on abuses by Jammeh’s regime by September as part of the truth commission that President Adama Barrow pledged.
Barrow defeated Jammeh in the polls in December and after a brief political turmoil sparked by Jammeh’s refusal to leave, the country is getting a grip on democracy and just concluded its first major vote since the ouster of the autocratic ruler.