Washington on Monday placed sanctions on Gambia’s exiled leader, Yahya Jammeh for corruption and human rights abuses, freezing all assets he may be holding in the United States.
Jammeh, 52, was defeated in Gambia’s election last year and the government of the new President Adama Barrow has found credible evidence of corruption and human rights abuses under the ex-regime.
The U.S. Department of Treasury said that Mr. Jammeh has a long history of engaging in serious human rights abuses and corruption.
“Jammeh created a terror and assassination squad called the Junglers that answered directly to him. Jammeh used the Junglers to threaten, terrorize, interrogate, and kill individuals whom Jammeh assessed to be threats,” the Department said in a statement.
“During his tenure, Jammeh used a number of corrupt schemes to plunder The Gambia’s state coffers or otherwise siphon off state funds for his personal gain. Ongoing investigations continue to reveal Jammeh’s large-scale theft from state coffers prior to his departure.”
A Commission probing the financial activities of the former authoritarian ruler found that Jammeh had disregarded financial regulations and plundering billions to live a florid lifestyle.
The Gambia’s Justice Department said Jammeh had ransacked the country’s treasury and reserve bank before fleeing. He allegedly stole $50 million in the weeks leading to his uncolorful ouster.
Gambia’s Parliament last week overwhelmingly supported the setting up of a commission to investigate human rights abuses under Jammeh. It will give victims a platform to tell their stories and lays the groundwork for those most responsible for grave crimes to face justice.
Monday’s Department of Treasury will see Jammeh’s mansion in Potomac, an affluent suburb outside of the U.S. capital, Washington, seized. The $3.5 million mega home is frequented by Jammeh’s Moroccan wife, ex-First Lady Zineb Souma Jammeh.