Rights group demands justice for 44 persons murdered in Gambia

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Flag of the Gambia
Flag of the Gambia

Scores of human rights activists and families of some 44 Ghanaians and other nationals allegedly killed in the Gambia in July 2005 while trying to go to Spain Wednesday staged a march through some principal streets of Accra to push government to speed up the process to bring the perpetrators to book .

Human rights organisations have accused Gambia of killing the 44 people and of refusing to open its doors for impartial investigation.

They are also blaming the Ghana government for not pushing hard enough to bring the Gambian authorities to cooperate in the investigations.

The demonstrators came from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Media Foundation for West Africa, Amnesty International and sympathizers of civil society organisations.

The demonstrators wore mourning clothes and T-shirts with inscription “Seeking Justice”.

They held placards some of which read: “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”, “Killers must be brought to Justice”, “We Need Justice for 50 Africans” and “What happened to our citizens”.

A representative of the relatives of the victims, Mr. Samuel Nkatiah, who read a petition, expressed regret at the lack of communication between the state and the relatives of the deceased and those who were reported missing.

Mr. Nkatiah said development on the investigations had not been reported to them while their request for information had fallen on deaf ears.

He said they only relied on media reports and did not know the whereabouts of the remains of the victims or the fate of those who went missing.

“We have lost fathers, sons, brothers and providers for the family. Their deaths and disappearances have brought not only emotional and physical loss but also the loss of livelihood and financial stability.

“As a result, some of our children can no longer go to school and we find ourselves in a daily struggle to survive.”

He called for recognition, assistance and information as to the whereabouts of their loved ones and if possible their remains as well as an open dialogue between them and the investigating bodies.

The relatives are also seeking government’s assistance to help them meet their n eeds as they said they had been deprived of proper livelihood due to the loss of their loved ones who were breadwinners.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and NEPAD assured the relatives that all efforts were being made to seek justice for the victims.

Mr. Yaw Adjei, Supervising Director in-charge of Finance and Administration in the Ministry, told the relatives that aside the many local and international efforts made by the government, an investigative Committee comprising the UN, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States and International Red Cross, had been established to investigate the incident to bring the perpetrators t o book.

Mr. Adjei, together with Mr. Zed K Grant-Essilfie, the Supervising Director, Leg al Multilateral Organizations, Consular, Immigration and Passports, received the demonstrators and their petition on behalf of the sector Minister who is out of the country on national assignment.

Mr. Adjei expressed sadness about the incident and the length of time in seeking justice but pleaded with the relatives and Ghanaians in general to be patient with the government as it resorts to international mediation on the issue.

He explained that with the investigative committee now in place, the Gambian government has been pinned down to sit and talk about the issue unlike in the past when it refused to sit with Ghanaian officials.

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