The Justice Ministry plans to release 3 Junglers, members of a hit-squad operating on the orders of former President Yahya Jammeh. The trio have agreed to a psychosocial support and they will also testify in any future case the state may have interest in. They would also be sent on leave, according to a leaked letter from Justice Ministry to the army.
The Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, a coalition of activists and people who have suffered human rights abuses under former President Yahya Jammeh, urges the Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou to rescind the decision of releasing Junglers.
Tambadou has written a letter to the army recommending the release of 3 Junglers who have been in custody for over 2 years. Malick Jatta, Omar Jallow and Amadou Badgie have confessed to several killings on the orders of former President Jammeh including the death of over 50 West African nationals in Gambia in 2005 and killing of journalist Deyda Hydara in 2004.
And on Monday, Tambadou told journalists at his office that the release of the Junglers is in the best interest of the victims.
“We are cognizant of the tremendous achievements made by the Government of The Gambia in the on-going Transitional Justice Processes; however, we totally disagree to the decision of the Minister of Justice to release the three ‘Junglers’, who testified at the TRRC. Therefore, on behalf of all victims we call on the Minister to consider rescinding the decision to release the ‘Junglers’, and make efforts to legitimize their detention through the Courts and prosecute them for the crimes they confessed to,” the Victim Centre said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The Victims Center urges the Gambia Government to continue fulfilling its obligations to prosecute crimes committed by the ‘Junglers’ to end impunity, to further contribute to the establishment of the rule of law by ensuring that the most severe crimes do not go unpunished and by promoting respect for international human rights law. This will empower victims and bring retributive and restorative justice closer together.”
The 3 Junglers have confessed to dozens of executions committed on the orders of former President Jammeh and the Justice Minister said without their cooperation some of those answers would have eluded the Gambian people for many years.
Tambadou, however, said his decision to temporarily release the Junglers must not be equated with amnesty. His said amnesty can only be granted by the Truth Commission.
“In our opinion, the decision taken by the Hon. Minister was a quick one, which needed dialogue and further consultation with victims and other stakeholders to reach a compromising decision. Such a decision will undoubtedly undermine the national reconciliation and healing efforts ushered by the ongoing truth seeking process of the TRRC,” said the Victim Centre.
“The Hon. Minister in exercising his powers to release the ‘Junglers’, ought to have considered the complexities of the facts of the crimes they committed and of the law. The number of accused persons, the quantity of evidence, and the prejudice it will render will be contradictory to the ongoing national reconciliation and healing efforts. On that basis, any decision concerning ‘Junglers’ that doesn’t critically take these factors into account falls short of reasonableness and rationality.”