Govt considers request for trial of Yahaya Jammeh

Government has said it is studying the request by Human Rights Watch and Trial International to ask for the extradition to, and trial of Yahaya Jammeh, former President of The Gambia, in Ghana.

This is in relation to the alleged state sponsored killing of 44 Ghanaians in The Gambia in July 2005.

The two international bodies are pushing for the extradition and trial of the former Gambian leader after fresh evidence which they believe ties the exiled Jammeh to the killings.

A statement signed in Accra by Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, Minister of Information, said government has “tasked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Attorney-General’s Department to study the request and explore the full extent of its legal and diplomatic implications and advise the government on the way forward for this request.”

Government shall inform the Ghanaian people of its decision in respect of this matter as soon as it receives the reports of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Attorney-General’s Department, the statement added.

The statement assured that government remained “committed to protecting the interest of every Ghanaian” and called on the families of those who lost their lives and the entire Ghanaian population to “exercise restraint as it seeks “good counsel” on this matter.

A survivor, families of the disappeared and human rights organisations are seeking the extradition and prosecution in Ghana of Gambia’s former leader Yahya Jammeh for alleged direct involvement in the killing of more than 50 West African migrants in 2005.

Human Rights Watch and TRIAL International two weeks ago called on Ghana’s government to investigate new evidence they say ties the former Gambian President to the killings of Ghanaians and others.

The groups conducted interviews with 30 former Gambian officials, including 11 officers linked to the deaths. Witnesses identified the Junglers, a notorious unit that took orders directly from Jammeh, as those who carried out the killings as the migrants tried to make their way toward Europe.

Several officials told the rights groups that the migrants may have been mistaken for mercenaries, who reportedly were planning a coup.

“The West African migrants weren’t murdered by rogue elements but by a paramilitary death squad taking orders from President Jammeh,” said Reed Brody, counsel at Human Rights Watch. “Jammeh’s subordinates then destroyed key evidence to prevent international investigators from learning the truth.”

Some 44 Ghanaians and several Nigerians, including two women, left from neighbouring Senegal in a motorised canoe in hopes of catching a boat that eventually would take them to Europe, the rights groups said. They couldn’t make contact with the boat and landed in Barra, Gambia on July 22, which was the country’s Revolution Day marking Jammeh’s 1994 coup.

“They lined us up, pointing guns at us, and marched us to the Barra police,” said the sole known survivor of the killings, Martin Kyere, said in the report.

The rights groups confirmed that the migrants were detained in the presence of the inspector general of police, National Intelligence Agency director and chief of the defence staff, among others, and at least two of those present were in telephone contact with Jammeh.

Former head of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Emile Short also insisted that the Ghanaian court should summon Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to answer to accusations of spearheading the gruesome murders of about 44 Ghanaians in the Gambia.

He was speaking at a news conference organised a fortnight ago in Accra, by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) to bring Yahya Jammeh, the former Gambian President who is believed to have ordered the ghastly murder to justice.

BY TIMES REPORTER    

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