Three Government Ministers In Gambia Test Positive For COVID-19

The Gambia is a small West African country, bounded by Senegal, with a narrow Atlantic coastline.
The Gambia is a small West African country, bounded by Senegal, with a narrow Atlantic coastline.

 

Three ministers in Gambia’s government have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said, days after the West African nation’s president went into self-isolation.

President Adama Barrow said last week he would self-isolate for two weeks after Vice President Isatou Touray tested positive.

Finance Minister Mambureh Njie, Petroleum and Energy Minister Fafa Sanyang and Agriculture Minister Amie Fabureh “have tested positive” for the virus, the presidency said in a tweet on Sunday.

Health authorities in the former British colony of some two million people have recorded 498 coronavirus cases to date, with nine fatalities since its first case was reported in March.

The Gambia closed air and land borders in March. It has also restricted public transport, shut schools and markets, and made face masks compulsory.

But as with other poor countries in the region, there are fears that the tiny nation is ill-equipped for a large outbreak.

 

AFP

Gambian Man In US Charged With Torturing Prisoners In Home Country

Vice Principal Gets Life Imprisonment For Raping 12-Year-Old In Ekiti
File Photo

 

 

A Gambian man living in Colorado was arrested Thursday on federal torture charges for his alleged role in abusing political prisoners suspected of plotting a failed coup in The Gambia in 2006.

Michael Sang Correa, 41, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit torture and six counts of inflicting torture on specific individuals, according to a June 2 indictment made public on Thursday.

“With this arrest, we are not only holding accountable a man who has allegedly committed horrific acts of torture against his own people, but demonstrating to the People of The Gambia, and indeed the entire world, that the United States stands for the rule of law and against those who abuse human rights,” Jason Dunn, the top prosecutor in Colorado, said in a statement.

Correa had entered the US in December 2016 to work as a bodyguard for Gambia’s vice president, who was visiting the United Nations, Dunn told reporters.

He stayed in the country and moved to Denver at some point after Gambian President Yahya Jammeh was voted out of office, officials said.

While in his home country Correa had been part of a military unit known as the Junglers, which operated outside the army’s chain of command and took orders from Jammeh, according to the indictment.

In 2006, the indictment alleges, Jammeh’s government learned of a plot to overthrow him and arrested a number of individuals suspected of taking part in the attempted coup.

The suspects were taken to Mile 2 Prison where Correa and others tortured them over a period of two months (April and March 2006), the indictment says.

Some of the prisoners had molten plastic or acid dripped on their bodies while others were beaten up with pipes, wires and branches, according to the charge sheet.

“The co-conspirators sometimes covered the victims’ heads with plastic bags restricting their ability to breathe and subjected some victims to electrocution on various parts of their bodies,” authorities said. “The indictment further alleges that one victim was suspended over the ground in a rice bag and beaten severely by the co-conspirators.”

Correa had been in federal custody in Colorado since last year after being arrested by Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE).

Authorities said investigators managed to track him down in the US thanks to communication and financial trails that led to his arrest.

Jammeh ruled Gambia with an iron fist for 22 years, but fled in January 2017 after losing a presidential election to relative unknown Adama Barrow.

Jammeh first refused to acknowledge the result before being forced out of power by a popular uprising.

He has been living in exile in Equatorial Guinea.

AFP

Three Dead As Gambians Protest Against President Barrow

Protesters hold banners bearing the faces of victims of the regime of Yahya Jammeh, the former President of the Gambia, during a demonstration asking for Yahya Jammeh to be brought to justice in Banjul on January 25, 2020. ROMAIN CHANSON / AFP

 

Three people died on Sunday in the Gambian capital Banjul during a demonstration calling for President Adama Barrow who wants to extend his term to step down, a hospital director said.

Police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters who responded by throwing stones, according to an AFP correspondent at the scene.

“I can confirm that there have been three dead,” said Kebba Manneh, director of the Serrekunda hospital where victims were taken.

He told reporters that people brought to the hospital had been treated for gas inhalation, and said some were still under observation.

Tension has been building in The Gambia over Barrow’s decision to stay in office for five years — reversing an initial pledge to step down after three.

Red Cross sources said 28 people had been taken to Serrekunda hospital on Sunday.

Opposition activists added that police had arrested scores of people, including Abdu Njie, leader of the Three Year Jotna (is up) Movement.

AFP

Gambia To Arrest Ex-President Jammeh Upon Return

Yayah Jammeh: Handover Deadline May Be Extended

 

Former dictator Yahya Jammeh would face immediate arrest if he returned home, Gambia’s justice minister warned Sunday, days after his supporters called for his return from exile.

After a year of hearings investigating abuses during his 22-year rule, “it can no longer be ruled out that crimes against humanity have been committed in The Gambia”, said Abubacarr Tambadou.

“There will be the accountability of the highest order for these crimes and I assure the victims that it is now only a question of when, and not if,” he added.

Unless the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) ruled otherwise, “if former President Yahya Jammeh, ever comes back to this country, he will face immediate arrest and charges of the most serious kind”.

Tambadou’s speech, given to mark the opening of the judicial year, was quickly posted online by groups campaigning to have Jammeh brought to justice.

The former dictator ruled the Gambia with an iron fist for 22 years but fled in January 2017 after losing a presidential election to relative unknown Adama Barrow. He only relinquished power after popular protests and international pressure, moving to Equatorial Guinea.

On Thursday, thousands of the former president’s supporters demonstrated in the capital Banjul, calling for his return to the country and to active politics.

They argue he has a right to return under a joint statement from the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations, published at the time of his exile.

In an audio recording leaked last week, Jammeh could be heard saying he supported Thursday’s protest.

On Monday, the TRRC will resume its work investigating the alleged abuses during Jammeh’s years in power. Last year, it heard 190 witnesses give testimony alleging torture, murder, rape and witch hunts under his regime.

Those in power at the time identified by the Commission “will face certain prosecution in the most serious form”, said Tambadou.

AFP

Gambia Vows To Crackdown On Traffickers After Death Of 60 Migrants

This image grab taken from an AFP video shows boats in the water at a beach, in Barra on December 5, 2019, after at least 62 people died on December 4, 2019 when their makeshift vessel capsized off the coast of Mauritania, including migrants from Gambia. Romain CHANSON / AFPTV / AFP

 

Gambian President Adama Barrow on Saturday vowed to punish people traffickers as he mourned the deaths of 60 Europe-bound migrants who drowned off Mauritania when their boat capsized.

“To lose 60 young lives at sea is a national tragedy and a matter of grave concern to my government,” he said on national television.

“A full police investigation has been launched to get to the bottom of this serious national disaster. The culprits will be prosecuted according to law”, he added.

Barrow said 60 people were confirmed dead in Wednesday’s tragedy.

He said funds had been sent to Mauritania to cater to the immediate needs of the survivors admitted to hospital and to finance their repatriation.

The boat was attempting to reach Spain’s Canary Islands — a perilous and poorly monitored route along West Africa’s coast — when their boat hit a rock.

Barrow pledged to “fast track prosecution of cases involving human trafficking.

“Law enforcement officials are also instructed to increase surveillance and arrest… criminals involved in human trafficking”, he said.

“Also, I have been informed that 189 people have been intercepted by the Mauritanian authorities. Arrangements have been made to transport them back to Banjul,” the Gambia capital, he added.

On Friday, Mauritanian authorities intercepted a vessel carrying 192 Gambian migrants headed for Spain, a Mauritanian security source told AFP.

The boat left Banjul on Monday and was intercepted in the high seas off Mauritania. The passengers were brought back to Nouamghar, about 150 kilometres (95 miles) north of the capital Nouakchott and were given food and blankets.

The sinking off Mauritania is the largest known loss of life along the so-called western migration route this year, and the sixth deadliest migrant capsize globally, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Mauritanian authorities said the boat had been carrying between 150 and 180 people when it sank.

Eight-three people survived the disaster by swimming ashore.

Migrant passages along the route from West African countries to the Canary Islands have increased recently as authorities clamp down on crossings to Europe from Libya.

Some 158 people are known to have died trying to reach the Canary Islands so far this year, according to the IOM, against 43 last year.

 

AFP

UN Court To Hear Myanmar Genocide Case Next Month

 

Gambia will open its case against Myanmar before the UN’s top court in December accusing the mainly Buddhist state of genocide against its Rohingya Muslims, the tribunal said Monday.

The small, majority-Muslim African country will ask the International Court of Justice to make an emergency injunction to protect the Rohingya, pending a decision on whether to deal with the wider case.

Gambia’s case at the ICJ accuses Myanmar of breaching the 1948 UN Genocide Convention through a brutal military campaign targeting the Rohingya minority in Rakhine state.

The ICJ said in a statement that it “will hold public hearings in the case” from December 10 to 12. “The hearings will be devoted to the request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by the Republic of The Gambia,” it added.

Gambia says it is filing the case on behalf of the 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

READ ALSO: North Korea ‘No Longer Interested’ In US Summits After Trump Tweets

Some 740,000 Rohingya were forced to flee into sprawling camps in Bangladesh after a brutal 2017 military crackdown, in violence that United Nations investigators say amounts to genocide.

Gambia’s lawyers said it wants the ICJ to announce urgent emergency measures “to protect the Rohingya against further harm.”

The case will be the first international legal attempt to bring Myanmar to justice over allegations of crimes against the Rohingya, and is a rare example of a country suing another over an issue to which it is not directly a party.

The ICJ was set up in 1946 after World War II to adjudicate in disputes between UN member states.

Separately the International Criminal Court — another Hague-based court which was set up in 2002 to probe war crimes — on Thursday authorised its chief prosecutor to launch a full investigation into the persecution of the Rohingya.

Rights groups meanwhile filed a separate lawsuit over the Rohingya in Argentina in which Myanmar’s former democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was personally named.

Myanmar has repeatedly defended the crackdown on the Rohingya as necessary to stamp out militants.

It has not reacted to the ICJ case, but said last week that the ICC investigation was “not in accordance with international law”.

Myanmar is not a member of the ICC, but the court says it can be held responsible for crimes that affect neighbouring Bangladesh.

AFP

 

 

WAEC Appoints Gambia’s Pateh Bah As New Registrar

                                                                                                                                                             Pateh Bah

 

 

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has appointed Mr Pateh Bah as its new Registrar/Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

The examination body disclosed this in a statement on Thursday by its Director of Public Affairs, Mr Abiodun Aduloju.

According to the statement, the appointment was ratified by the International Governing Board of WAEC at its 67th Annual Meeting held in Freetown, Sierra Leone in March 2019.

Bah from the Gambia succeeds Dr Iyi Uwadiae from Nigeria and is appointed for a five-year tenure from October 2019 to September 2024.

He is a graduate of Pune University, Maharashtra in India from where he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1997.

The new WAEC boss also holds various postgraduate and professional qualifications from other institutions in India and the United Kingdom.

He worked briefly with the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, Banjul, The Gambia from 1990 to 1991 before he joined the service of WAEC at the Gambia National Office on October 9, 1991.

In 2002, Bah was appointed as Personal Assistant to the Registrar/CEO after which he relocated to the Council’s headquarters in Accra, Ghana.

While at the Headquarters, he rose to the position of Principal Assistant Registrar on April 1, 2010, and successfully served as Personal Assistant to two successive Registrars.

Based on a special request by the Board of Directors of the Gambia Office of WAEC – The Gambia Administrative and Finance Committee – Bah was deployed in June 2010 to temporarily take charge of the Gambia National Office when its headship fell vacant.

He was later made the acting Head of National Office for a two-year term from September 2010 to August 2012 and at the expiration of the period, he was appointed the substantive Head of the Office with effect from October 12, 2012, a position he held until he assumed office as the 13th Registrar to Council on October 1, 2019.

He was a member of the Governing Boards of the Gambia Technical Training Institute and the Gambia National Accreditation & Quality Assurance Authority.

Bah also served as Chairman, Audit Committee of the International Association for Educational Assessment (IAEA) and the present Treasurer of the Association for Educational Assessment in Africa (AEAA), as well as a member representing Africa on the Board of Trustees of the IAEA.

First Gambia President, Dawda Jawara Dies At 95

President of Gambia Dawda Kairaba Jawara’s visit to the USSR. Dawda Jawara signs the book for honourable guests. Lev Ivanov / Sputnik

 

Dawda Jawara, the first president of The Gambia following independence from Britain, died Tuesday at the age of 95, officials said.

Current President Adama Barrow, in online comments, described Jawara’s death as “a great loss to the country in particular and humanity in general”.

Fisheries Minister James Gomez told AFP that “the former head of State Sir Dawda Jawara died this afternoon. Flags would fly at half mast” and the body will lie in state for mourners to pay their respects.

Jawara, a Glasgow-trained veterinary doctor, led the former British Colony to Independence on 18th February 1965 until July 1994 when his reign was brought to an end by a bloodless military coup led by Yahya Jammeh, who went on to rule the tiny West African state for 22 years.

The Gambian presidency, in a statement on Twitter announced that a state funeral would be held on Thursday.

“In honour of his enduring legacy, President Barrow has ordered that the former president be accorded a befitting state funeral and that flags at all public institutions to fly at half-mast.

“Sir Dawda has lived a life that epitomises peace, tolerance, respect, and patriotism. His time as president has put the country on the path of development at both human and institutional standards. His legacy as the father of the nation shall forever live on.”

Jawara was born in 1924 into a Muslim family in central Barajally, where his father was a tradesman.

He worked as a vet and it was not until 1960 that he decided to enter politics, joining the Protectorate People’s Party in 1960 while the country was still under British rule..

His party, which later changed its name to the People Progressive Party (PPP) won the elections in 1962 and he became the country’s prime minister.

That was the post Jawara held when The Gambia gained its independence in 1965, ending British colonial rule which begun in 1888.

It was not until 1970 that he assumed his post as the country’s first president.

Jawara resisted post-independence pressure to become part of neighbouring Senegal, which surrounds the whole country with the exception of its Atlantic coastline.

Following his 1994 ouster, Jawara sought refuge in Britain where he lived with his family until 2002 when he returned home after President Jammeh granted him amnesty and returned his assets to him.

While in power his regime was considered one of the most democratic on the African continent.

AFP

Gambia Removes Yahya Jammeh’s Image From Bank Notes

Families Of Jammeh's Victims In Gambia Demand 'Truth'
Former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh

 

The face of former president Yahya Jammeh, which was printed on all bank notes in The Gambia, has been removed from new bills more than two years after his flight from the West African country.

With accusations piling up that Jammeh ordered dozens of assassinations, the central bank in Banjul, began distributing new 50, 100 and 200 notes in the local dalasi currency from Tuesday.

All the new notes have birds on one side and a variety of local scenes on the other, from a farmer in a rice paddy to a fisherman in a boat at sea.

Local rights activist Madi Jobarteh welcomed the change.

READ ALSO: Bobi Wine Charged With ‘Annoying’ Ugandan President

“A national currency is not a personal property and the head of a sitting president should not be on that note,” he said.

“There are many Gambians who deserve to be on these notes because of their role and contribution in the struggle for independence and development of this country since independence,” he added.

Trader Alagie Kanteh told AFP the bank was “right in removing the image of the former president”.

“He is responsible for the killing of a lot of people in this country.”

Jammeh ruled the tiny state for 22 years after taking power in a bloodless coup in July 1994.

He was repeatedly re-elected in disputed circumstances until defeated in December 2016 by a relative unknown, Adama Barrow.

After a military intervention by other West African states, Jammeh bolted from his country and found refuge in Equatorial Guinea.

Human rights activists accuse his regime of torturing opponents, executions without trial, forced disappearances and rape.

A Truth Commission has since January been hearing evidence of the mayhem, including testimony from hitmen who said they carried out dozens of murders for Jammeh.

Just days ahead of a major Muslim holiday, central bank governor Bakary Jammeh said he expected strong demand for the banks notes, which will soon see old ones bearing Jammeh’s face taken out of circulation.

AFP

Gambian Ex-Dictator ‘Handpicked’ Women For Rape, Abuse – HRW

Yayah Jammeh: Handover Deadline May Be Extended

 

Former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh “handpicked” women whom he would rape or sexually coerce, offering cash, gifts and other privileges in exchange, international rights groups said on Wednesday.

“Yahya Jammeh treated Gambian women like his personal property,” said US attorney Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“But rape and sexual assault are crimes, and Jammeh is not above the law, and no woman is beneath it.”

Jammeh ruled the tiny West African state for 22 years before fleeing to Equatorial Guinea after losing elections to opposition candidate Adama Barrow in December 2016.

His regime was notorious for its brutality and corruption, but this is the first time that his sexual abuse of women has been extensively and publicly documented.

The investigation, by HRW and a Swiss NGO, TRIAL international, is based on evidence from several women, eight former Gambian officials and several other witnesses, they said.

Jammeh had “protocol girls” who were required to be on call to provide him with sex, according to their report, issued in Dakar, the capital of neighbouring Senegal.

He “handpicked young women to satisfy his sexual fantasies,” according to a top aide quoted in the report.

As an inducement, he would lavish gifts on them or provide support for their impoverished families or offer a scholarship to study abroad.

They were required to live next to his residence and were barred from leaving without his authorisation — and if they refused his sexual demands, he would threaten them or hit them.

The “protocol girls” were overseen by his female cousin, Jimbee Jammeh, who also procured other women for him, the report said. She fled with him to Equatorial Guinea.

Several women have gone on record with their experiences, it said.

One of them was Toufah Jallow, then an 18-year-old drama student, who was the 2014 winner of the main state-sponsored beauty pageant, which Jammeh had lauded as “a means to empower girls”.

Over six months, she refused his advances, rejected his offer to become a “protocol girl” and a proposal to marry him, Jallow said.

After aides brought her to attend a pre-Ramadan Koran recital at the presidency, State House, Yahya locked her in a room, hit and threatened her, injected her with a liquid and raped her, according to her testimony.

She fled to Senegal days later.

Gambia has set up a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), modelled on South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to shed light on Jammeh’s reign.

“These admirable women broke the culture of silence. It is now crucial that the TRRC and the government give them a path to redress and justice,” said Marion Volkmann-Brandau, who led the research.

“It’s time for the ‘shame’ of rape to switch sides.”

Jammeh is also accused of spiriting away hundreds of millions of dollars — one estimate put it as high as one billion dollars (880 million euros).

Best Route To National Development Is Stability – Buhari

Best Route To National Development Is Stability – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari with President Adama Barrow of The Gambia at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on August 1, 2018.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says there is no development without stability, as development is usually the first casualty in an unstable polity.

The President made the declaration on Wednesday when he received President Adama Barrow of The Gambia at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“The best route to national development is stability,” he said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina. “When a country is not stable, you spend most of your financial resources on security.”

“That is the money that should have gone into education, infrastructure, and generating employment for the people, particularly youths,” President Buhari added.

He congratulated Mr Barrow for stabilising The Gambia after his emergence as president after the impasse when his immediate predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, initially refused to vacate office after losing the presidential election in December 2016.

In his response, The Gambian President thanked President Buhari for the role Nigeria played in helping his country return to the path of constitutional democracy.

He also congratulated the Nigerian President on his emergence as the new Chairman of ECOWAS.

Barrow noted that he was the first foreign leader to visit Abuja after the development.

Gambian Govt Condemns Ex-President Jammeh’s Planned Return

Families Of Jammeh's Victims In Gambia Demand 'Truth'
Former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh

 

Banjul on Thursday condemned former president Yahya Jammeh’s pledge to come back to the West African country in a leaked phone call that went viral on social media.

“Neither man nor (spirit) can stop me from coming back to The Gambia,” Jammeh said in the leaked tape, comments the current government subsequently called “shocking and subversive”.

It said that in light of Jammeh’s record of “state-orchestrated disappearances, kidnappings, murders,” it would act accordingly and decisively, without further elaborating.

“The leaked tape…

revealed in significant detail the former President’s desperate efforts to stay politically relevant in The Gambia even as his trail of terror and economic crimes are being cased for potential criminal prosecution,” the government said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the former ruling party, Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), said it was probing the leak of a call between its members and the ex-president – the first time the country’s old ruler has been heard of since he fled in 2017.

Jammeh, whose 22-year-rule was marked by numerous human rights violations, lost the presidential election in December 2016 to then opposition leader Adama Barrow.

He went into exile in Equatorial Guinea in January 2017 when armed intervention helped end his rule.

There have been numerous calls for Jammeh to be returned to his native country to be prosecuted for the alleged human rights abuses, including the killing and torture of opponents — although a share of the population still supports him.

AFP