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TRRC’s second encounter with the “good medic” Jatta


The Truth Commission visits the one-time notorious Janjanbureh prison on Wednesday. 

Bubacarr Jatta, the commissioner at Janjanbureh prison in conversation with the chair and the vice chair of the Commission, Lamin Sise and Adelaide Sosseh.

The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) investigating the human rights violations of the former Gambian ruler has its second encounter with a previous witness before the Commission Bubacarr Jatta.

Jatta, hailed by several political and military detainees of the 1994 coup as a “good man”, has host the eleven commissioners of the commission, their staff and the investigation team at the Janjanbureh prison where he serves as a commissioner.

Jatta was a medic at Mile 2 Central Prison at the time of the 1994 coup, a place that host dozens of Gambians who were found or perceived to have been against the military takeover. There, in the midst of torture, killings and hopelessness, Jatta the good medic, became the hope for many.

Though unqualified as a medic, Jatta saved lives and took care of the wounded so call high profile detainees. Among them was Ebrima Chongan, the first Commission witness, and Mamat Cham, the current commander of the Gambian army.

The chief cook of the prison, Bakary Kongira, himself a prisoner, explains to the Commission their feeding conditions. The food, they said, is good. This is different from the stories shared with prisoners in Mile 2 and Old Jeshwang. The prisoners were having “Benechin” for lunch.

Janjanbureh, a one-time notorious prison used by the former self-style “revolutionary” Yahya Jammeh to torture his political opponents and perceived enemies, was the fourth state facility of interest visited by the Commission since Tuesday.

A recent witness before the Commission, Lamin Waa Juwara, who was arrested on several occasions by Jammeh has had his day in Janjanbureh. There he told Commission he was tortured.

And the Commission today visited the cell he was at the prison’s remand wing. It was the same cell Kemesseng Jammeh of United Democratic Party was also locked, explained Jatta.

The Janjanbureh currently has 31 prisoners, according to Jatta who took the Commission on a tour. The prison has one female prisoners and 8 non-Gambians.

A prisoner in Janjanbureh Prison. The facilities at the prison and the conditions are apparently better than Mile 2 and Jeshwang. 

Meanwhile, the Commission began its visit at Fajara Barracks on Tuesday where an unspecified number of Gambian soldiers were executed on November 11, 1994.

The aim of the visits were to see for themselves places mentioned by the witnesses as settings for gruesome murders and tortures.

From the barracks, the Commission then visited Old Jeshwang Prison and a secret detention center for National Intelligence Agency.

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