Saturday, August 23, 2014

Nine extrajudicial executions by Yaya Jammeh and two years later, still no answers

Thursday 23rd August 2012 will live in infamy in the history of The Gambia.  It marked the day, a mad man portraying himself as President of the Republic of The Gambia and goes by the name His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Abdulaziz Jamus Jungkung Jammeh Nasuru Deen Babilli Mansa, when in the dead of night, he sent in his executioners to collect nine death row inmates from their cells at the notorious Mile II Prisons.

That is all we know for certain, including the fact that they were executed extrajudicially because we know that all of the victims' rights of appeal have not been exhausted.  We also know,  through an eyewitness account for a former Minister of Communication who was also on death row, that one of the prisoners, while being carried away, shouted out loud in the local vernacular to the minister that he, the prisoner, was being carried away to be executed.   At great risk to the former minister, he managed to get the word out to the outside world of what was going on inside the Mile II Prisons.

When questions about the executions were posed to the regime, it was denied instantaneously on state television.  The regime's rapid response teams were deployed by the regime to counter the increasing  international outcry of the barbarism of an evil government.

When the regime realized that their lies were not being bought and that there was the imminent possibility of being confronted with proof, Jammeh blinked and admitted that the executions did take place, but they didn't take place on Thursday 23rd August as claimed by his accusers but on Sunday 26th August, as if it mattered.

He went further by threatening Gambians and the international community that more executions will take place in the following few weeks.  No known execution has taken place since the threat from the Gambian dictator.

It has been two years, and still no answers are forthcoming as to how these death row prisoners were murdered.  Among the executed was an inmate whose death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment and, thus, should not have been on death row.  Yet he was murdered.

The nine included two Senegalese nationals, one of whom was a woman.  It was also reported that a mentally-challenged inmate who belonged in a psychiatric ward than in prison was among the murdered.  Most, if not all, shared one thing in common, they were executed extrajudicially by a very violent regime that continues to promote violence among and within a society already held to ransom by a corrupt and inept regime.

Two years have past without answers as to what has happened to the bodies of the nine murdered inmates. Even if all the legal remedies have been exhausted, and that the executions were legal, the executions should have been announced officially in the Government Gazette, the families of the inmates notified of the execution dates and be given the option to be present.  After the executions, the bodies were to have been handed the bodies of their loved ones for appropriate burial rites to be performed before being final burial. That is what civilized governments do.

Until we get answers to these and similar related questions specific to individual inmates, the families of the nine inmates will not rest, the international community will not rest, the dissidents abroad will not rest, and neither shall we at

May the souls of all the victims of the hideous regime of Yaya Jammeh rest in eternal and perfect peace. Amen.