ALHAGIE JOBE, SMBC NEWS – Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh has confirmed the torture-death of senior opposition member Solo Sandeng in custody after he was arrested in April for leading a peaceful demanding electoral reform in the West African nation.

Jammeh, 50, who is seeking a fifth mandate in December says death in custody is not unusual, refusing to heed to calls by the UN and Amnesty international to investigate reported deaths of three protesters, one of which is confirmed to be Mr Sandeng.

“I do not see the point. People die in custody or during interrogations. It is really common,” Jammeh said.

The Gambian leader confirmed only one of the protesters died during interrogations and said “I will not investigate.”

Torture during interrogation is prevalent

Torture during interrogations is common in Africa, forcing detainees to admit to accusations they might be innocent of, and Mr. Jammeh, whose regime has been accused of rights violations does not see the point of investigating such deaths in custody.

Jammeh’s statement does not only confirm Sandeng’s death but UN reports that torture and extra judicial executions in state custody are apparent in The Gambia with the refusal of the #Government to handover the bodies to distraught families. It has also confirmed claims that there is a torture squad under the command of Jammeh called the ‘jungulars’ or the ‘black-black boys’ who have their faces covered during videotaped torture sessions.

Refusal to return bodies

In 2006, family members of at least a dozen security officials including the head of the spy agency, NIA rejected government reports that the men escaped after a vehicle transporting them to a prison in northcentral Gambia got into an accident. Security sources say they were killed and thrown into a well. The UN confirmed the existence of this well.

In 2009, President Yahya Jammeh, without due process, executed nine death row inmates supposedly by firing squad. The Government initially denied the executions, but after international pressure was mounted, they admitted to the killings. Contrary to the law of The Gambia, authorities refused to hand over the bodies to their families, which included Senegalese citizens.

In 2014, at least three people were killed after an attack on Jammeh’s official residence, The State House. Their bodies were held for months in a mortuary and later disappeared. Family members have not seen them since.

Sandeng’s remains have not been returned to his family.  He is reportedly buried in a secret location in Tanji, a coastal village that is home to a secret detention center for the spy agency directly under President Yahya Jammeh’s command. But before Sandeng, there was Kanyiba Kanyi and journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh. #World Politics #Foreign Affairs