Gambia commission: Ex-leader responsible for murder, torture

Gambia's former president Al Hadji Yahya Jammeh attends the plenary session of the Africa-South America Summit on Margarita Island September 27, 2009. (PHOTO / AGENCIES)

BANJUL – A Gambian truth and reconciliation commission said in a report published on Friday that former President Yahya Jammeh was responsible for a spree of killings, torture and rapes during his 22-year rule over the tiny West African nation.

The independent Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission was set up when Jammeh left Gambia for exile in Equatorial Guinea after refusing to accept defeat in a 2016 election.

The commission said that former President Yahya Jammeh, who came to power in a 1994 coup, and his henchmen, including a personal hit squad known as The Junglas, were responsible for 44 specific crimes against journalists, ex-soldiers, political opponents and civilians

The commission's report, which follows a sweeping three-year inquiry into the abuses of the Jammeh era based on testimony from hundreds of witnesses, was given to President Adama Barrow earlier this month but was only made public on Friday.

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The commission recommended that those responsible for the abuses be prosecuted. read more

Neither Jammeh nor his spokesman could be reached for comment.

The commission said that Jammeh, who came to power in a 1994 coup, and his henchmen, including a personal hit squad known as The Junglas, were responsible for 44 specific crimes against journalists, ex-soldiers, political opponents and civilians.

These included the killing of journalist Deyda Hydara in 2004, seven civilians in 2000 and 59 West African migrants in 2005. He was also responsible for the rape or sexual abuse of three women, according to the commission.

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In its report, the commission recommended "prosecuting Yahya Jammeh and his co-perpetrators in an Internationalized Tribunal in a country in the West African sub-region."

Amnesty may be granted to those who during the TRRC inquiry confessed to wrongdoing and expressed remorse. A decision on requests will be made within six weeks.