By Omar Bah
The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) investigating the human rights violations under former President Yahya Jammeh Wednesday visited the Janjanbureh prisons.
Lamin Waa Juwara, one of the recent witnesses before the Commission, who claimed to have been arrested on several occasions by Jammeh was detained for months in Janjanbureh, where he told the Commission in his testimony that he was tortured.
The Commission visited the cell Mr Juwara was detained in which was the same cell Kemesseng Jammeh of the United Democratic Party, now Ambassaodr to Turkey was also locked.
“The Janjanbureh prison currently has 31 prisoners, one female prisoner and 8 non-Gambians,” a previous witness before the Commission Bubacarr Jatta informed the visiting TRRC commissioners. Jatta is hailed by several political and military detainees of the 1994 coup as a “good man”.
He (Jatta) was a medic at Mile 2 Central Prisons at the time of the 1994 coup, a place that host dozens of Gambians who were found or perceived to have been against the military takeover. Among them was Ebrima Chongan, the first Commission witness, and Mamat Cham, the current commander of the Gambian army.
The chief cook of the prison, Bakary Kongira, himself a prisoner, explained to the Commission that their feeding conditions is somehow better than the stories shared with prisoners in Mile 2 and Old Jeshwang. While the commissioners were there the prisoners were having “Benechin” for lunch.
The Commission began its visit at Fajara Barracks on Tuesday where an unspecified number of Gambian soldiers were executed on November 11, 1994 to see for themselves places mentioned by the witnesses as settings for gruesome murders and tortures.