TRRC visits Mile 2’s notorious Security Wing

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The Commission which was on its first site visit on Friday, had earlier heard several harrowing stories of witnesses who reportedly went through torture, mock execution and in few occasions resulting to death of some cases at Mile 2.

The Truth Commission probing the human rights violations of the former dictator Yahya Jammeh has visited the Security Wing of the Mile 2, prisons cells where several senior officers were jailed and tortured following the 1994 military takeover.

The Security Wing, Gambia’s equivalence of a gulag, is partitioned from the State Central Prison’s Main Yard by a thick wall of about 3 meters tall with a thick black metal door.

Currently holding 70 inmates, the Security Wing was the first place the Commissioners visited under the “protection” of over a dozen prison officers.

The Security Wing is next to the swamps behind Mile 2. The part of the prison has several rooms measuring 3 by 2 meters, according to the director general of the prison, Ansumana Manneh.

The first cell at Security Wing Number 5 looks like an occupied prison, though there was no one inside, with some copies of what look like a Quran and a praying mat. Inside was a concrete bed on the side, a table made of concrete and what looks like a stool, small in size, at a corner.

Security Wing Number 1 is a 12-room cell built by the colonialist. It is about 3 by 2 meters where people in solitary confinement are kept. There the Commissioners encountered one inmate.

“We have come here because it is important for us to understand what the witnesses are telling us,” said Lamin J Sise, chairman of the Commission, as he discussed with Manneh.

The Commission which was on its first site visit on Friday, had earlier heard several harrowing stories of witnesses who reportedly went through torture, mock execution and in few occasions resulting to death of some cases at Mile 2.

Since the start of the Commission on January 7, it heard seven witnesses all of whom were senior security officers explaining how the coup happened and the atrocities that occurred in its immediate aftermath.

A star witness before the Commission who appeared to have been involved in the coup from the beginning appeared with several revelations as he testified behind a tinted glass on Thursday.

The witness, a former soldier, who was himself arrested following November 11 killings of military officials, submitted a list of people he knew and believed to have been killed by Jammeh.

The witness mentioned people who are involved in the “execution” of close to 20 soldiers on November 11, 1994. Though Jammeh and his colleague claimed those soldiers were involved in a coup but the witness said that information in incorrect.

The witness said the soldiers were just in disagreement with the coup makers based on what they thought was a betrayal of their agenda.

The witness said the military agreed on improved welfare for the soldiers, salary increment and three months transition, all of which were betrayed by Jammeh.

Mile 2 currently has a prisoner population of 523 with 210 at remand, a part of the prison where people on trial await for their judgment.

The conditions at that place even though the current government claims to have been doing a prison reforms, are not any better.

There are 11 rooms at remand, each 4 by 3 meters containing at least 19 people. The beds which are visible from the door are mere plank of woods placed unidirectional. The TRRC resumes sittings on Monday.

2019-01-18T18:07:08+00:00

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