An alleged former Gambian “death squad” member has been indicted in the United States on 11th June 2020 on torture charges. A coalition of victims and human rights groups, including SRT grantee TRIAL International, the African Network Against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances, the Center for Justice and Accountability, the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, the Guernica Centre for International Justice, Human Rights Watch, and the Solo Sandeng Foundation, has acknowledged the news as a major advance for victims of abuses under the rule of The Gambia’s former dictator, Yahya Jammeh. TRIAL International have undertaken a central role in the coalition’s investigations into the alleged members of the notorious “Junglers” death squad.
Michael Sang Correa, the 41-year-old alleged Jungler indicted in early June, is the first member of Jammeh’s death squad to be prosecuted anywhere in the world. The coalition of victims and human rights organizations investigating the case, along with the support of Senators Leahy and Durbin of Vermont and Illinois, have urged US justice officials to investigate allegations of grave international crimes he committed in The Gambia, and prosecute under US jurisdiction, ever since Correa was found to be in Denver, Colorado in September 2019. The Gambian government has cooperated with the US investigation of Correa.
The US Department of Justice alleges that Correa is responsible for the torture of at least six people in 2006, following an attempted coup against Jammeh. Correa and other Junglers allegedly beat their victims with plastic pipes, wires and branches, covered the victims’ heads with plastic bags, and subjected some to electric shocks. Jammeh’s 22 years in power were marked by “widespread human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, torture, and arbitrary detention.” Jammeh has been living in Equatorial Guinea since January 2017 after losing in the 2016 presidential election to Adama Barrow.
If the Correa case moves forward, it will be the second ever case to be tried in the US under the federal extraterritorial torture statute. The statute criminalizes acts of torture committed by anyone present in the United States, regardless of where the crime was committed or the nationality of the victim or perpetrator. The only other prosecution was of Charles “Chuckie” Taylor, Jr., the son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who was convicted in 2008 by a court in Miami and is serving a 97-year sentence.
The Gambia’s former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko is currently in pre-trial detention in Switzerland, where he is under investigation for crimes against humanity following a complaint filed by TRIAL International in January 2017. TRIAL International states on the matter, “We hope that the former Interior Minister Ousman Sonko will soon be brought to justice.”
Read more about Correa’s indictment here: https://trialinternational.org/latest-post/gambian-death-squad-member-charged-with-torture-in-the-united-states/
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