Breaking News:Common Wealth Expresses Concern over the murder of about 50 Africans in Gambia!!
Public Agenda (Accra)

28 May 2007
Posted to the web 28 May 2007

Accra

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has raised stakes once more on the death and disappearance of approximately 50 immigrants, 44 of whom were Ghanaians in The Gambia in 2005.

The immigrants who were believed to be en route from Senegal to Europe were arrested by the Gambian authorities, detained, and subjected to the most heinous crimes of torture by the use of machetes, axes, knives, sticks and other sharp objects.

This was disclosed by a top Gambian official who wished to speak out about his government’s actions. As it was later revealed, the remains of these immigrants were found littered throughout the Gambian coastal villages of Brufut and Ghana Town. This incident was also reported in the media but was eventually abandoned.

The cold blooded murder of the 50 Africans came up on Saturday 19th May 2007 during the public session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), in Accra.

The Ghanaian and Gambian authorities have since acknowledged that this was a regrettable experience that warranted immediate attention. However, despite agreement between the two authorities to initiate thorough investigation into the matter, this has only met with frustrations. Admittedly the Gambian authorities have not been able to render positive regard to the matter and this has left facts regarding the incident extremely mysterious. For two years now since the incident occurred no official report has been published to adequately address the matter, which still remains unresolved and is yet to be fully scrutinised.

Human rights defenders at CHRI have been persistently involved in the advocacy of the matter and have lobbied for an audience before government authorities without much success. In the absence of a thorough and consistent investigation the hopes of receiving an official report remain rather faint.

CHRI has therefore called upon the African Commission to initiate an investigation into the extra judicial killings and demand the cooperation and commitment of the two states related to the incident namely, the Republic of Ghana and the Gambia.

CHRI has also insisted that the African Commission, as a matter of priority request a detailed report regarding the incident from the two states and also demand that the Gambian Government apprehend and punish the perpetrators. Incidentally, the ACHPR is headquartered in Banjul, The Gambian capital.

As we celebrate Ghana’s 50th year of independence coupled with the privilege of hosting the African Commission Ordinary Session, it has become pertinent to reflect on such past histories that continue to remain in a vacuum.

The most basic human right available is the right to life and no person may be deprived of his life without lawful justification. These African victims have had this right abused in the most brutal way possible, and this cannot go unnoticed. It is observed that both countries as state parties to the African Commission have vowed commitment to protect, promote and enforce human rights and this must be witnessed factually by positive action from both governments.

In early 2006 The Gambia Eco published gory details of the murder of the victims, which was in turn published by Public Agenda. The Eco quoted a top government official as saying that “a group of 50 people; 46 Ghanaians, 2 Senegalese, 1 Ivorian and 1 Guinean were arrested in July 2005 by our immigration at the Senegalese border village of Amadalaye for illegally entering The Gambia.

Incidentally, there was an intelligence report that an attack on The Gambia was imminent and that seemed to have linked this wave of illegal immigrants to the tip off. These men were frantically transported to Barra, a coastal village on The Gambia’s North Bank Division (seven sea miles off Banjul), where a team of The Gambia Navy picked them up and ferried themto the Naval Headquarters in Banjul.

Present at the Naval headquarters were Colonel Ndure Cham, then Chief of Defense Staff, his deputy CDS Lang Tombong Tamba, Major Ousman Sonko Gambia’s Inspector General of Police, Mr. Gibriel Ngorr Secka of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Major Ousman Badjie, then Commander of the Presidential Guards.

Soon after they docked at the Naval Headquarters in Banjul, a group of masked, well-armed men descended on the scene and began to tie them individually like animals. While on action, now Lieutenant Kawsu Camara (alias “Bombarde”- thanks to his clownish shows of lethality) inadvertently dropped his mask and was recognized. It was then apparent that the much-feared Bombarde and his State House men were in action and nothing less than ominous was to be expected.

These so-called illegal immigrants were bound in ropes and electric cables and divided into two groups of 25 men each. One group was taken to Kombo Police Station and the other taken to a house in Kotu belonging to Baba Jobe (a UN indicted felon serving nine years at Gambia’s Mile II Prisons), but under the custody of President Jammeh.

Subsequently, Bombarde and his masked men picked these immigrants from these locations in groups of eight and took them to a killing site in the farms of Siffoe village in Gambia’s Western Division 50km off Banjul at Siffoe farms under the command of IGP Ousman Sonko, CDS Ndure Cham, Major Ousman Badjie of the State House Guards and Captain.Tumbul Tamba.

The “CHIAKAS” (lethal killers) used machetes, axes, knives, sticks and sharp objects to kill them individually. The bodies were indiscriminately dumped at various locations among them Brufut a coastal village close to Siffoe. As if by divine intervention, two of the immigrants (Ghanaians) escaped before their hacking and fled to Brufut. Once it was noticed that they were Ghanaians, they were directed to meet the head villager of Ghana Town. At Ghana Town the duo narrated their harrowing tales of escape from the Siffoe killing fields. The village headman was so nervous that he could not accommodate the desperate men only few kilometers from Bombarde and his men. Conscious of the consequences, the village headman called the Police Intervention Unit (PIU).

Within minutes, the PIU came, rearrested the duo in two pick up vehicles and headed to Kanifing in the suburbs of Serekunda, where they were detained and questioned. While in detention at Kanifing, the men narrated to some officers their ordeal and how some of their colleagues were brutally murdered with machetes and pick axes. One day, one of them managed to escape and ran into New Jeswang shouting for help. He was apprehended and together with the other Ghanaian taken to an unknown location and until now nothing is heard of them.”

Posted on Monday, May 28, 2007 (Archive on Saturday, June 02, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI
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