Local newspapers reported on the men’s arrest
Three victims of Gambia’s anti-gay crackdown have spoken about the torture they endured after they were arrested by the country’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
In October 2014, Gambia’s President Jammeh signed an anti-gay law that created the crime of “aggravated homosexuality”, which carries punishment of up to life in prison.
Homosexuality was already illegal in the country under British colonial era laws and those found guilty of “unnatural offences” can be jailed for 14 years.
The enactment of the new law was followed by the rounding up and arrest of a number of people on suspicion of homosexuality by the NIA.
Now, three victims have revealed to FatuRadio the horrors they faced during their detention at the hands of the agency.
They claim that they were tortured by agents known as “junglers” during regular 2 a.m. sessions at the NIA headquarters, in which they were forced to “confess” and to identify other homosexuals in the community.
According to the report, the junglers would strip the men naked, “hold their hands and legs and beat them up” until they agreed to fabricated confessions.
No-one paid any attention to their screams. At times, the men were made to kneel down on stones.
After they were tortured for more than a week, between the 9th and the 17th of November 2014, they were sent to the Mile 2 Central Prison on the outskirts of Banjul, where they were kept under appalling conditions.
They slept, ate and used the toilet in the same space, which was infested with cockroaches and mosquitoes. One of the men was twice admitted to hospital.
After an almost eight-month ordeal, two of the victims were acquitted, while the third is out on bail, pending the resolution of his case. Mambaonline has chosen not to name the men to avoid them being persecuted further.
President Jammeh has repeatedly attacked LGBT people as “vermin”, asserting that the “evil empire of homosexuals will also go down the dirty drain and garbage of hell…” He has even threatened to decapitate gays and lesbians.