Let’s continue pursuing justice for massacred Ghanaians

By
Eric Appah Marfo/ Haruna Abdulai, GNA

Accra, Feb. 28, GNA
– A human rights advocate, Mr Jeggan Grey-Johnson, has appealed to African
Justice officials and political activists to hasten efforts towards the
prosecution of those responsible for the murder of the 44 plus Ghanaians in The
Gambia in 2005.

Their action, he
said, should demonstrate to citizens that the continent had a firm belief in
the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Mr Grey-Johnson, who
is the Advocacy and Communications Coordinator for Africa Regions Office of
Open Society Foundations, made the appeal, on Thursday, at the Premiere of the
“J2J Ghana Coalition Documentary Film” in Accra.


The event, organised
by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Ghana and partners, was under
theme: “The Massacre of Ghanaians in The Gambia: Justice in Limbo?”.

On July 23, 2005,
news broke about the unlawful killings of over 44 Ghanaians in the Gambia by
the “Junglers”, a notorious paramilitary unit, on the orders of Yahya Jammeh,
the then President of the country.

The Advocacy
Coordinator said they would continue to amplify their voices in their quest for
justice and would not relent until a closure was brought to the case.

“These were
vulnerable young people- and the people who killed them thought that because
they were migrants, that nobody knew, no one would notice, because no one would
miss them,” he said.

“The lives of your
colleagues matter. So their deaths must matter also. They were someone’s sons,
daughters, uncles, fathers, mothers-to be, cousins, nephews, nieces and
friends.

“These were young
African men and women, with a whole future ahead of them. They were our
future-our people- our youth. They deserve closure. Not political and
diplomatic posturing”.

Dr Kojo Asante,
Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement, CDD-Ghana said when news of the
massacre broke, an advocacy sprung up, led by Mr Akoto Ampaw, Professor Kwame
Karikari and Ms Nana Oye Lithur, who were all founding patrons.


He said the advocacy
was also channelled through Civil Society Organisations, led by the
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Media Foundation for West Africa and
Africa Legal Aid.

Dr Asante said it was
through such relentless efforts that eventually brought the illegal operation
into the limelight for national discussion and urged the state to initiate
legal steps to undertake investigations and secure justice for the victims and
their family members.

Unfortunately, he
said not much was achieved because Yahya Jammeh did not cooperate with the
High-Powered Delegation sent by Ghana to the Gambia.

“In fact, when a
United Nations/ ECOWAS team was tasked to conduct investigations into the
murder in 2009, they concluded that the Gambian Government was not “directly or
indirectly complicit” in the deaths and disappearances of the West Africans;
but rather, ‘rogue elements’ in the Gambia’s security services were
responsible”.

However, he said,
new evidence put together by Human Rights Watch and TRIAL International through
interviews with more than two dozen former officials of the Gambian security
forces, including officers directly involved in the incident, had revealed that
the “junglers” under Yahya Jammeh’s orders summarily executed the migrants over
several days in various locations in the Gambia and neighbouring Senegal.

Meanwhile,
addressing the “Meet-the-Press” session last year, Madam Shirley Ayorkor
Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration said President
Akufo-Addo was ‘one hundred per cent’ committed to ensuring justice for the
victims.

She said Madam
Gloria Akuffo, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, was working on the
case.

“The matter is with
the Attorney-General of Ghana and she’s looking at it and she has had a meeting
with her counterpart in the Gambia so it is not a closed case matter at all,”
Madam Ayorkor-Botchwey said.

“But I can tell you
that we are taking the matter very seriously because one murder of a Ghanaian
is one too many.” 

GNA

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