The Gambia is about to setup a commission to probe into allegations of human rights abuses committed during the 22-year rule of ex-President Yahya Jammeh. But even before the Commission could start hearing, revelations are being made.
Gambia’s Justice Department is touring the country in a bid to educate the public of what the work of the Commission would be and prepare the nation for reconciliation.
During one of the tour’s stops, a senior police officer revealed to the Justice Minister, Aboubacarr Ba Tambadou and his entourage that he was ordered to kill Jammeh’s political adversaries, instructions he disobeyed.
Malamin Sankareh was given a kill order to execute an unnamed key political figure in far-east Gambia after clashes broke out between UDP and APRC supports in the provincial city of Basse in 2006.
“I flatly refused the order and I was sacked. I was without a job for six months before being reinstated without compensations,” he was quoted as saying by The Standard Newspaper.
Sankareh is now the Commissioner of Police in the country’s Central River Region and among tens of people that would be testifying before the Truth, Reconciliation and Repatriation Commission.
The UDP-APRC Basse crisis ahead of that year’s elections left at least one person dead and saw the arrest of senior opposition figures on murder charges. They were later released.
In his attempt to continue consolidating power, Jammeh used the security forces to the carry out arbitrary arrest, torture and forced disappearances against political opponents and activists.
Servicemen that choose loyalty to country over him refusing to partake in this face torture, death, prosecution on treason and flimsy charges, and if lucky, lose of job.
Some 23 former servicemen have been arrested over human rights violations and crimes against the state since Jammeh’s ouster, including nine NIA agents being prosecuted for the killing an opposition activist.
Victims of Jammeh and their families are demanding for justice as mass graves get unearthed in the small country that is shocked at the height of crimes the Jammeh regime have committed.
Gambian authorities withheld the unburying of victims to avoid tampering with evidence critical to prosecuting serious violations as the probe into killings and tortures widen.
At least 30 people remain missing and Gambia is seeking international forensic and pathology support to help further their case against the former self-serving ruler.
Rights groups have called on The Gambia’s government to prosecute those responsible for grave crimes committed during the 22-year rule of Yahya Jammeh and say fair trials are crucial for victims and their families and for building respect for the rule of law in the country.