AIDS victims sue Gambian ex-president Yahya Jammeh for performing illegal experiments on them

Gambia: Three people living with AIDS in the Gambia are suing former president Yahya Jammeh, alleging he detained and abused them as guinea pigs to test his supposed cure, according to one of their lawyers.

"My clients are claiming damages for false imprisonment and (declaring) that the defendant subjected the plaintiffs to inhumane and degrading treatment contrary to the constitution," lawyer Combeh Gaye told AFP shortly after filing the suit on Thursday. The AIDS patients who have gone to court are two men of 63 and 64 years old and a woman of 51.

Jammeh, who was expelled from his position by an armed intervention in January 2017, claimed to possess a range of mystical gifts, including the power to cure asthma, epilepsy and sterility as well as AIDS, using plants and chants.

 AIDS victims sue Gambian ex-president Yahya Jammeh for performing illegal experiments on them

Yahya Jammeh claimed to have a cure for HIV/AIDS. Reuters.

Shortly after Jammeh publicly announced his "discovery" of an AIDS cure in 2007, the three plaintiffs and six other people, including a minor, were invited to meet the president at State House and became his "first batch" of experimental subjects.

In their court case, they testified that top among Jammeh's "rules was that the members of the group should immediately desist from using any anti-retroviral drugs and/or any other form of conventional medication" given to people with HIV/AIDS.

Jammeh kept the patients locked up during some six months of treatment until July 2007, brushing aside their objections to being filmed during the alleged therapeutic sessions. They later learned that videos had been broadcast on state media, including official GRTS television, the three plaintiffs said.

Despite the ineffective and painful nature of the supposed remedy, the first batch of subjects backed up Jammeh's claim to have cured them when they were discharged. The court case specifies that they "were compelled by fear and threats from the defendant's agents". Then health minister Tamsir Mbowe joined Jammeh in "false and misleading claims", encouraging "numerous" other people with HIV actively to seek magical treatment, the plaintiffs argued.


Updated Date: Jun 01, 2018 19:41:39 IST