The Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) has urged Ghana to re-open an investigation into the killings and enforced disappearances of 44 Ghanaian migrants in the Gambia in 2005 towards bringing former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh to justice.
ACILA Executive Director, William Nyarko made the call in an interview with the BBC following new information uncovered by Human Rights Watch and Geneva-based TRIAL International alleging complicity of Jammeh in the 2005 incident.
He called on Ghana, in light of the new information, to independently establish the facts which had been put forward by ACILA’s partners, Human Rights Watch and TRIAL International so as to seek Jammeh’s extradition from Equatorial Guinea to stand trial in Ghana.
When asked by the BBC’s Thomas Naadi whether the new facts had anything to link Jammeh to the killings, Nyarko said the facts and circumstances as narrated by “30 former Gambian officials, including 11 officers directly involved in the incident” suggest that the ‘junglers’, the paramilitary force that took direct orders from Jammeh and who did the killings were in direct contact with Jammeh at the time of the killings.
Nyarko explained that Ghana could invoke the international convention against torture which Ghana and Equatorial Guinea are State parties to request the extradition of Jammeh from Equatorial Guinea to stand trial in Ghana, adding that under the torture convention Equatorial Guinea had a legal obligation to prosecute or extradite a person [Jammeh] who commits torture, which is one of the charges Ghana could bring against Jammeh.
In a related development, it was learnt that the courts of Ghana could exercise jurisdiction over the matter because the Courts Act provides extraterritorial application of the law when a crime has been committed against a Ghanaian even if the crime occurred outside Ghana.
In addition to the charge of torture, Jammeh could also be charged for enforced disappearance under Ghanaian law since the disappearance of the remaining 38 Ghanaians is still continuing. Only six bodies were recovered and returned to Ghana for burial.
In July 2005, about 56 African migrants who were making their way to Spain by sea were apprehended and later killed by a notorious hit squad, the ‘’Junglers’’ on suspicion of being mercenaries who were trying to overthrow the Gambian government under Yahya Jammeh.
The lone survivor of the massacre, Martin Kyere recounted how they were arrested at sea and tortured before being driven to a forest where they were killed.
13 years down the line, Human rights advocates all over the world have embarked on a massive campaign to bring the former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh to justice so as to end the culture of impunity for international crimes. Notable amongst these organizations is the Africa Center for International Law and Accountability, Human Rights Watch, Trial International, Amnesty International, CDD-Ghana, POS Foundation, Media Foundation for West Africa, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Human Rights Advocacy Center.