Michael Sang Correa
Michael Sang Correa is an alleged former member of the Junglers, a paramilitary unit in The Gambia. The Junglers are believed to be responsible for carrying out widespread human rights abuses on behalf of former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. Under his rule, from 1994 to 2016, human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, torture, extrajudicial killing, sexual violence and arbitrary detention were widespread.
In the aftermath of a failed coup in 2006, the regime announced that it would crush all opposition. A wave of arrests took place in The Gambia. Correa and other Junglers allegedly tortured the detainees. In 2015, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture found that the Junglers carried out the regime’s most repressive abuses: arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killing.
On 17 September 2019, the US Department of Homeland Security arrested Correa in Denver, Colorado for overstaying his visa. Correa was placed in immigration detention and removal proceedings.
Following news of his detention, a coalition of human rights organizations and Correa’s victims, including the Center for Justice and Accountability, the African Network Against Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances, the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, the Guernica Centre for International Justice, Human Rights Watch, the Solo Sandeng Foundation and TRIAL International called on the United States to investigate the credible allegations of grave international crimes committed by Correa in The Gambia.
Michael Sang Correa applied for asylum in the US, but his application was denied in January 2020. He appealed this denial in February 2020.
On 11 June 2020, the US Department of Justice charged Correa with six counts of torture and one count of conspiracy to commit torture under the US’ extraterritorial torture statue. Correa pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and is currently in detention awaiting trial. Correa’s indictment marks the first prosecution of a member of Jammeh’s death squad anywhere in the world, and is only the third time the US has laid charges pursuant to its extraterritorial torture statute.
Correa’s trial continues to be delayed due to Covid-19 restrictions. At a status hearing held in May 2021, the prosecution announced that it produced nearly 17’000 pages of documents to the defense for its review in preparation for trial. Due to travel restrictions arising from Covid-19, however, Correa’s defense team has still not been able to travel to The Gambia to investigate the allegations against him and prepare its defense. The presiding judge has issued several extensions on scheduling a trial date. The trial is now anticipated to take place at the end of 2022.