Government has said it is studying the request by Human Rights Watch and Trial International for the extradition and trial of former Gambian leader, Yahya Jammeh in Ghana over the killings of some 44 Ghanaian migrants.
A statement released by the Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid, noted that government has been informed that Human Rights Watch, in collaboration with Trial International led by an American lawyer, Reed Brody, has unearthed fresh evidence which they believe ties the former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh, to the killing of 44 Ghanaians on or about July 22, 2005.
It added that since the request has legal and international diplomatic implications, government has tasked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Attorney-General’s Department to study the request and explore the full extent of all the implications and advise the government on the way forward for the request.
He further assured that citizens would be informed on government’s decision as soon as it receives the reports from the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Attorney-General’s Department.
“Government wishes to assure the Ghanaian people, that it remains committed to protecting the interest of every Ghanaian. Government therefore wishes to call on the families of those who lost their lives and the Ghanaian population, to exercise restraint as it seeks good counsel on this matter”, Mustapha Hamid stated.
A campaign dubbed ‘Jammmeh2JusticeGhana’ was launched on May 19, 2018, in Accra, calling for prosecution of former Gambian leader, Yahya Jammeh, for the 2005 massacres of 44 innocent Ghanaian migrants in the Gambia, who were on their way to seek greener pastures in Europe and were allegedly mistaken for coup plotters by Jammeh’s intelligence.
Chairman of the event, Emile Short, former Chairperson of the Ghana Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice, and former ad litem Judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, highlighted the jurisdiction options available for Ghana to prosecute Jammeh.
“Given the evidence that has been compiled, and the gravity of the offences which have been demonstrated by those who have testified to it, I think that a momentum can be gathered to ensure international support for a request for extradition of Yahya Jammeh to Ghana to face trial”, he said.
Notable among the justice seekers is 37-year old Martin Kyere, the key witness, and the only survivor of the 56 West African migrants who were killed. Approximately, they included 44 Ghanaians, 10 Nigerians, One Senegalese, One Ivorian, and One Togolese.
Martin Kyere recounted his heirnous ordeal at the launch of the campaign in the presence of Families of the victims as well as organizations such as the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Perfector of Sentiments Foundation (POS), the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), the Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC), the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Amnesty International and the Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability (ACILA).
“In February 2005, over forty-four (44) of us (Ghanaians) boarded a small boat in Ghana to Senegal, enroute to Europe to seek greener pastures.
The boat was, however, was intercepted when it entered The Gambia territorial waters, and we were arrested on trumped-up charges of attempting to topple Yahya Jammeh.
The information was relayed to Yahya Jammeh, who was then celebrating the bloody coup that brought him to power, without any proper investigation, the coup maker ordered his men to kill us”, Mr. Kyere narrated.
According to him, “the soldiers, acting upon the instructions handcuffed and took us to a location. We were then transported into a forest before they killed my colleagues in cold blood I managed to escape to Senegal, and later returned to Ghana to break the news about the heinous crime”.
In the course of the inhumane treatment, two of the innocent Ghanaians, Martin kyere and other managed to escape, but one of the escapees was later arrested and slashed into pieces by one of the soldiers, using a machete.
President Yahya Jammeh, initially, denied knowledge of the crime, but after intense diplomatic pressure admitted that his soldiers were behind it, but failed to tell the international community that he himself ordered the killings.