GAMBIA: Could the Families of Executed Prison Inmates Have Access to their bodies?

Since the confirmation by the government of The Gambia through the Interior Ministry on Monday, 27 August, of the execution of the 9 death row inmates namely Dawda Bojang, Malang Sonko, Lieutenant Lamin F. Jarjou, Lieutenant Alieu Bah, Staff Sergeant Lamin Jammeh, Tabara Samba, Buba Yarbo, Lamin B.S. Darboe and Gebe Bah, the Foroyaa has been trying to find out from their respective families whether they were notified by the authorities prior to the execution or allowed access to the bodies before burial. The majority of affected families were contacted while a few of them could not be identified and accessed.


The family of Lamin B.S. Darboe, a native of Bakoteh, who were found in a somber and sad mood, said they were not informed by the authorities of the execution of their relative. They said they only heard the devastating news on the state television on Monday night. The aggrieved family said they were shocked by the killing of their relative, whom they were expecting to be pardoned by the State as he had served more than 26 years in prison and had become a totally obedient, religious and transformed person. The family members said Lamin was the longest serving prisoner in Mile Two prison and was even called by all inmates as the ‘Alkalo ‘(head). They said Lamin could have escaped from custody on 22 July 1994, when the prison gates were opened and many inmates escaped, but he instead decided to call the Police for assistance to control the inmates. The family lamented that they did not have access to his dead body for them to give him a fitting burial in accordance with Islam. They said they have not yet decided whether they will conduct a recitation of the Holy Quran and charity for him.

The family also said that during the incarceration of Lamin, both his parents (father and mother) and his wife died. They said the wife had waited for him for a very long time anticipating the day he will be given presidential pardon to unite with his family but sadly died whist waiting in vain. They expressed their doubt as to why Lamin was executed when his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by the former government.

Buba Yarbo’s family at Busumbala expressed their confusion following the announcement of his execution and do not know what to do as at now. They stated they were never informed of the execution by the authorities before it took place and that it came as a shock to them when they heard it on television. The family said they did not conduct any Muslim prayers or charity for him and do not know anything yet about the copse or its burial.

The family of Lieutenant Lamin Jarjou at Brikama confirmed that they were neither informed of the execution of their family member, nor did they have access to the dead body. They said they first heard the rumour of the execution of their love one, but the authorities did not inform them officially. They said they heard the disheartening news of the execution when it was aired on State Television on Monday (27 August) night. They said  relatives and concerned people have been coming to the family compound in Brikama to pay their condolences and that the family will hold a recitation of the Holy Quran for the deceased on the seventh day following the official announcement of the  death of Lt. Jarjou by the State.

The family of Sergeant Lamin F. Jammeh, a native of Sittanunku, in the Upper Niume District of North Bank Region, said they were not officially informed of the execution of their family member. The family said they did not have access to the corpse in order for them to give him a fitting burial in accordance with the Muslim religious rites.  They said they are yet to do any recitation of the Holy Quran for him. The family also said they received the shocking news of his execution after the official announcement on state television.

At a compound in Serekunda in the area called ‘Hannover’, the members of the family of Sergeant Alieu Bah (alias Lieutenant) were met to enquire about whether they were given prior official information before the execution. According to the family members, they only came to know about the execution of Alieu when it was announced on GRTS television. Alieu Bah is said to be a native of Yalal Tangogila, in the Upper Baddibou District of North Bank region but was staying in Serekunda with his immediate relatives. Several family members and concerned persons have been going to the compound he stayed in Serrekunda (Hannover), to pay their respect in accordance with traditional Gambian customs. According to the family members, they are yet to hold prayers and charity for him as the majority of his immediate family live in the provincial town of Jarra Soma, in the Lower River Region.

The families of Madam Tabara Samba, Gebe Bah (both Senegalese nationals) and Malang Sonko are yet to be identified and spoken to.

This reporter has been informed that Dawda Bojang is a native of Ginak, an island village in the Lower Niumi District of North Bank Region.

The nine inmates, comprising seven Gambian and two Senegalese nationals, including one female, Tabara Samba from Senegal, were reported to have been executed by firing squad by state television on Sunday, 26 August 2012, as promised by president Jammeh whilst meeting Muslim religious leaders on the Muslim feast day of Eid el Fitr to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.


Could the Families of Executed Prison Inmates Have Access to their bodies?


See also:

Gambia executions an unfortunate setback UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Public Opinion on Execution of Death Row Inmates




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