Incumbent Gambian President Yahya Jammeh leaves a polling station in Banjul on 1 December 2016.
JOHANNESBURG – About 30 officials have revealed that 50 West African migrants bound for Europe in July 2005 were killed by then-Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s closest allies in the army, navy and police forces.
Gambian officials, including 11 officers who were directly involved in the incident, revealed that people from Ghana, Nigeria and other West African countries en-route to Europe were killed by Jammeh’s closest allies after detention.
The witnesses identified the “Junglers,” a notorious unit that took its orders directly from Jammeh, as those who carried out the killings.
The insiders interviewed by TRIAL International and Human Rights Watch include some of the highest-ranking security commanders in the Gambian government at the time, as well as several officials present at the arrest, detention, and transfer of the migrants, a Jungler who witnessed the killings, and two who participated in a subsequent cover-up.
“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.”
Jammeh’s 22-year rule was marked by widespread abuses, including forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and arbitrary detention.
He sought exile in Equatorial Guinea in January 2017 after losing the December 2016 presidential election to Adama Barrow.