Tag Archives: TRRCGambia

Gambia – justice is needed for 2005 massacre of migrants

Watch – ‘I Cannot Bury My Father’ Director of Photography, Jason Florio

Gambia – justice for 2005 massacre: July 22nd, 2020 – Today marks 15 years since Gambian security forces, on the orders of then-President Yahya Jammeh, killed over 50 West African migrants.

In July 2005, 56 West African migrants, including 44 Ghanaians were murdered in The Gambia en route to Europe. The unarmed migrants were killed by the ‘Junglers’, a death squad reporting directly to Yahya Jammeh, Gambia’s dictator at the time. Evidence has since emerged that Yahya Jammeh gave the orders to kill them. The families of the victims are still seeking justice. At the time of release of this documentary, Yahya Jammeh is in exile in Equatorial Guinea – ANEKED – watch the documentary, ‘I Cannot Bury My Father’

Isaac Mensah, James Town beach, Accra, Ghana © Jason Florio. Isaac is the son of one of 44 murdered Ghanian migrants, by Gambian security forces, in The Gambia, in 2005.
Isaac Mensah, James Town beach, Accra, Ghana. The son of Peter Mensah, one of 44 Ghanaians killed by Gambian security forces in July 2005 © Jason Florio /Helen Jones-Florio‘Gambia-victims, and resisters’

‘Gambia-victims, and resisters’

Martin Kyere, Ghana – the sole known survivor of the 2005 massacre by Gambian security forces . Image © Jason Florio /Helen Jones-Florio

Ghanaian, Martin Kyere, is the sole known survivor of the 2005 massacre in The Gambia of the West African migrants.

“When one of the soldiers used his cutlass to cut off Adamo’s shoulder and the blood is flowing all over the place…I think we realized then, that the soldiers wanted to kill us all.”

After their capture, the migrants were badly beaten and then split into two groups and handed over to the Junglers, Jammeh’s hit squad. Over one week, the Junglers summarily executed the group. Martin managed to slip the rope from his wrist and escape into the bush, undercover of the night, minutes before the executions began of the group he was with. He spent 4 days walking in the Gambian bush avoiding coming into contact with anyone until he was able to cross the border to safety in southern Senegal. 

“I jumped From the pickup and into the forest. I heard the soldiers shouting at me, but I did not look back. I  ran harder…I tripped on something in the forest that brought me down and gunshots passed over me and around me. But, it was dark so I lay still and waited until it was safe to move again. I could hear behind me ‘Oh God save us, Oh God save us’, and gunshots”. Martin told us that he knew then that his friends were being killed. 

Martin is now part of a campaign to bring Jammeh2Justice, for himself and the families of all of those whose loved ones were executed in The Gambia and Senegal in July 2005.

Ghanaian Sarah Boadu, holds a portrait of her father, Richmond Boadu, who was one of the the migrants killed by Gambian security forces in July 2005. Image © Jason Florio
Ghanaian, Sarah Boadu, holds a portrait of her father, Richmond Boadu, who was one of the the migrants killed by Gambian security forces. Image © Jason Florio /Helen Jones-Florio

#Portraits4PositiveChange

“A credible international investigation is needed if we’re ever going to get to the bottom of the 2005 massacre of West African migrants and create the conditions to bring those responsible to justice,” said Emeline Escafit, legal adviser at TRIAL International. “Until now, information has come out in dribs and drabs, year after year, from different sources.” Human Rights Watch

The family of Peter Mensah, one of 44 Ghanaians migrants who were attempting to travel to Europe by sea in 2005, captured and massacred by Gambian security forces. Image ©Jason Florio/helen Jones-florio #Portraits4PositiveChange
The family of Peter Mensah, one of 44 Ghanaians migrants who were attempting to travel to Europe by sea in 2005. They were apprehended by Gambian security forces then massacred by members of President Jammeh’s hit squad, ‘The Junglers’ on his orders. “We will not rest until we have my father’s body to bury and Jammeh is brought to justice.” Image ©Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio

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The Gambia – victims and resisters of a former regime

The Gambia – victims and resisters of a former regime © Jason Florio with Helen Jones-Florio

This week in The Gambia we have been continuing our long term project documenting the Victims & Resisters of the former Yahya Jammeh regime.

#Portraits4PositiveChange



It never gets any easier listening to their stories (3+ years in, with this ongoing multimedia series), but their strength only emboldens us to continue to create a photographic and video archive – a tool for advocacy, learning, historical record and hopefully reconciliation.

#Jammeh2Justice

A special thanks to Nana-Jo Ndow, and Fily Nyabally at ANEKED for their support, over the last couple of weeks.

Watch ‘I Cannot Bury My Father’ – Director & Producer, Nana Jo-Ndow/ANEKED; Director of Photography, Jason Florio

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See more of Jason Florio’s documentary film work on his website

February 2020 – Currently in The Gambia, West Africa

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The Gambia – All eyes are on the TRRC Live TV

Gambians watch the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission, live on TV © Jason Florio, The Gambia, West Africa
Gambians watch the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission, live on TV. Image © Jason Florio, The Gambia, West Africa

The Gambia – everywhere you go, all eyes are on the TRRC live TV

The TRRC is an independent Gambian institution mandated to conduct research and investigations into human rights violations committed under the presidency of Yahya Jammeh. The Commission further aims to prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered under the past regime by making recommendations to government and citizens aimed at ensuring the crimes of the past never recur in The Gambia. TRRC

Gambians watch the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission, live on TV © Jason Florio, The Gambia, West Africa
All over the Gambia, Gambians watch the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission, live on TV. Image © Jason Florio, The Gambia, West Africa

#NeverAgainGambia

Gambians watch the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission, live on TV © Jason Florio, The Gambia, West Africa
Gambians watch the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission, live on TV. Image © Jason Florio, The Gambia, West Africa

The TRRC is currently hearing the testimonies of the victims of the 2009 witch hunts when over 1000 elders were abducted on the orders of then-President Yahya Jammeh. Paramilitary troops accompanied by ‘magicians’ from Guinea went from village to village as part of a nationwide hunt for witches. The alleged witches were made to drink ‘Kubehjaro’, a hallucinogenic substance, and then forced to confess to witchcraft. A number of people died during the ordeal, due to drinking the liquid and as a result of severe beatings, and several deaths followed due to health complications, such as kidney failure.

Portrait of Sankung Balajo - victims of President Yahya Jammeh's witch hunts, The Gambia, in 2009 © Jason Florio
Sankung Balajo, Essau – victims of President Yahya Jammeh’s witch hunts, The Gambia. Image© Jason Florio

“I was kept for five days. When they forced me to take the medicine (‘Kubehjaro’ a hallucinogenic substance), I could no longer stand up… I fell down on the ground… ” excerpt from Sankung Balajo’s interview with Jason Florio/Helen Jones-Florio: ‘Gambia – victims, and resisters

‘Gambia – victims, and resisters’
#Portraits4PositiveChange

Photographer and filmmaker, Jason Florio, films victims of 2009 witch hunts, which took place in The Gambia, West Africa
Photographer and filmmaker, Jason Florio, films a victim of 2009 witch hunts (in the village of Essau) which took place in The Gambia, West Africa. Image ©Helen Jones-Florio #Portraits4PositiveChange

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Victims of Sexual Gender-Based Violence – TRRC, The Gambia

Victim of sexual violence, Bintu Nyabally, testifies at Gambia's TRRC. Bintu was raped by two masked security men whilst in police custody. Image ©Jason Florio
Victim of sexual violence, Bintu Nyabally, testifies at Gambia’s TRRC. Image ©Jason Florio

 “No, this was done to me, and I want
justice…these men should be punished” Bintu Nyabally, victim of sexual violence whilst in police custody

The Gambia, West Africa, October 14th, 2019 – Bintu Nyabally, gave her testimony to the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparations Commission (TRRC). Bintu was arrested on 9th May 2016, after leaving the court hearing of Ousainou Darboe, a member of the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), in Banjul. She was attending in solidarity for her uncle, opposition activist and UDP member, Solo Sandeng, who was beaten to death whilst in police custody in April 2016.

Gambia – victims, and resisters

During her detention, Bintu said that she was raped by two different security officers, wearing masks. When we met her in December 2018, to make her portrait, and film her testimony, we asked her if she would prefer that we disguise her identity in the photograph. Bintu’s adamant response was, “No! this was done to me, and I want justice… these men should be punished!

#Portraits4PositiveChange

Victim of rape and beatings by Gambian security forces, The Gambia - portrait by Jason Florio
Bintu Nyabally – portrait ©Jason Florio. From the series ‘Gambia – Victims, and Resisters

The TRRC is an independent Gambian institution mandated to conduct research and investigations into human rights violations committed under the presidency of Yahya Jammeh. The Commission further aims to prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered under the past regime by making recommendations to government and citizens aimed at ensuring the crimes of the past never recur in The Gambia. TRRC Homepage

Memorial march for victims of the former regime of Yahya Jammeh, Banjul, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio
Peaceful march for victims of the former regime of Yahya Jammeh, Banjul, The Gambia, West Africa, 2018 © Jason Florio

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