Probe into killing of Ghanaians in The Gambia must be re-opened – Ablakwa

Politics of Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Source: citinewsroom.com

2019-12-11

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Member, Foreign Affairs Committee

Parliament has been impressed upon to urge the Executive to re-open investigations into the alleged killing of 44 Ghanaian nationals in The Gambia.

In 2005, Ghanaians were shaken by the news of the killing of over 50 people in The Gambia.

The deceased were Europe-bound West African migrants, originating mainly from Ghana and Nigeria, who were mistaken for mercenaries attempting to overthrow the then president, Yahya Jammeh.

Fresh evidence emerged earlier this year about the circumstances that led to the killing of the migrants, among which 44 were Ghanaians.

Three former officers of a special paramilitary group in The Gambia confessed to participating in the operation at The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) in September.

Delivering a statement on the occasion of the Human Rights Day, the Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa called on the government to ensure that justice is served in the matter.

“Mr Speaker, when The Gambia and Ghana signed the MOU, they pledged among other things to bring the actual perpetrators of the massacre to justice if new evidence emerges, providing a prima facie case against the alleged perpetrators. The three soldiers have confessed to participating in the killing of our citizens and other West African migrants on the orders of Yahya Jammeh and this confession was broadcasted live to the whole world at the ongoing Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission in The Gambia in July this year,” he said.

“Mr Speaker, since The Gambia and Ghana pledged to bring the actual perpetrators to justice and the soldiers have confessed to murdering our constituents, this august House should take a keen interest in this matter. Parliament must urge the government of Ghana to reopen an investigation into the killings with the ultimate aim of bringing those who bear the greatest responsibility for the murder and forced disappearance of our constituents to justice,” he added.

Over the years, the only known survivor of the massacre, together with families of some of the deceased and numerous human rights organizations in Ghana, has made repeated calls for justice after evidence emerged that Yahya Jammeh was behind the massacre.

With Tuesday being recognized worldwide as the International Human Rights Day, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of The Gambia, Emmanuel Daniel Juff, has noted that his country is marking this year’s celebration by taking steps towards advancing the ‘Jammeh to Justice Ghana’ campaign.

“The National Human Rights Commission of The Gambia, though newly established, has the mandate to promote and protect human rights in the country. So it is very apt on this day which is known worldwide as the International Human Rights Day to come and join and collaborate with CDD and the consortium of bringing Jammeh to justice.”

“We are no longer speculating. We are talking about those who actually took part in the gruesome killings of Ghanaians and other nationalities. We need to bring closure to this one. We cannot allow impunity to reign in our societies. Perpetrators of such hideous crimes must be brought to book,” he stated.

Background

The families of the deceased migrants and the known lone survivor of that massacre, Martin Kyere, have previously asked the government to share with them, its course of action on the case.

This followed the confessions by the Gambian soldiers that they participated in the killings on the orders of Yahya Jammeh, ex-president of the Gambia.

A statement signed by Martin Kyere on behalf of the victims’ families and himself, said the government had not reached out to them or informed the public about its course of action to secure justice for them.

The statement expressed disappointment that in spite of the live video confessions by the two soldiers, no linkage was established about Yahya Jammeh’s complicity.

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