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Gambia: Will former president Yahya Jammeh (ever) go on trial?

By Marième Soumaré
Posted on Wednesday, 9 June 2021 16:11

Gambia’s former president Yahya Jammeh in Banjul, November 2016. Thierry Gouegnon/REUTERS

After two years of detailed testimony about murder, corruption and crimes against humanity, it is expected that the commission charged with shedding light on the crimes committed by Gambia’s former president Yahya Jammeh will recommend criminal proceedings against him.

Only one survivor remains following one of the Jammeh regime’s most bloody massacres.

Martin Kyere was the only person to escape when nearly 60 West African migrants, who Gambian soldiers mistook for mercenaries, were executed after landing on Banta beach, opposite Banjul. He was just over 20 years old at the time.

15 years later, he returned to Gambia to tell the story of what had happened to him in July 2005. Last March, Kyere came to testify before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission.

The structure was set up to investigate crimes committed by former president Yahya Jammeh during his rule from 1994 to 2017. Kyere was one of some 370 witnesses called to appear before the commission, which conducted its hearings over two years. The hearings were broadcast live on radio and television and were widely watched throughout Gambia.

Kyere talked about how he had been beaten up by the soldiers, who suspected him and several dozen other migrants of being mercenaries, as soon as he arrived in the country. “What are you doing here? Are you here for Yahya Jammeh? Do you want to destabilise our country?,” asked the soldiers, before imprisoning the migrants for several days. They then tied them up and took them to a forest to kill them.