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Jammeh victims call for enactment of anti-torture bill at photo exhibition

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By Aisha Tamba

Victims who suffered torture under former president Yahya Jammeh’s regime have called for the enactment of the anti-torture bill.

They made this demand yesterday at the start of a photo exhibition of victims who were tortured, raped and killed during the 22 years of tyranny under Jammeh. The exhibition is being organized by the Solo Sandeng Foundation and will run until a few more days.

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 One of them, Binta Nyabally, a former Sea Front Apartment employee, was arrested in 2016 for attending the proceedings of the April 14th and 18th protesters and taken to the Police Intervention Unit headquarters. She was severely tortured by her arresters and raped during the torture. She was again beaten and sexually harassed by the PIU officers.

She told the gathering: “I urge lawmakers to take this anti-torture bill seriously and not to get politics involved in their mandate. They should be conscious that people voted for them and they should look at the best interest of the public. I was a victim of torture in the Jammeh era and again a victim of torture in Barrow’s era but when the bill is enacted people will enjoy their full democratic right”.

Falang Sonko was one of the lead protesters on April 14th 2016. He explained that he and his fellow protesters were taken to the Police Intervention Unit headquarters in Kanifing before being transferred to Mile 2. “We were questioned, tied up, poured water on, and beaten severely with our torturers taking turn”, he said. 

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Sonko said he still has not recovered fully from those wounds. “I am still struggling with my health,” he said.

On the issue of enacting the bill, Mr. Sonko said he hoped what happened to him does not happen to anyone else.

The vice chair of the National Human Rights Commission, Mrs. Jainaba Johm said the commission has set up a committee that encompasses CSOs, and stakeholders to make sure that the government implements the TRRC recommendations. “We have to be watch-dogs and the motto ‘Never Again’ comes with the immediate enactment of the anti-torture bill,” she told the gathering.

The photo exhibition was organised by Solo Sandeng Foundation which has been advocating for security sector reforms and the creation of deterring mechanisms for some of the excesses of the same as we take part in the transitional justice process. 

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