Banjul — GAMBIA'S former president, Yahya Jammeh, has been accused of rape and sexual assault while he was in office.
Three women have made the allegations against the former strongman who is currently in Equatorial Guinea, where he sought exile after losing the 2016 presidential election to Adama Barrow.
A fourth woman alleged Jammeh's aides confined her in an apparent set-up for sexual abuse but she survived.
Accusations come as the Gambian Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) is documenting human rights violations committed during Jammeh's 22 years in power, including sexual violence allegations.
Human Rights Watch called on the TRRC and the Gambian government to ensure that allegations of rape and sexual violence by Jammeh and other former top officials are fully investigated, and, if warranted, prosecuted.
"Yahya Jammeh treated Gambian women like his personal property," said Reed Brody, counsel at HRW, who led the investigation.
"Rape and sexual assault are crimes, and Jammeh is not above the law."
Investigations included interviews with eight former Gambian officials and several other witnesses, according to HRW.
Among these are men who worked for the Protocol Department at State House, close protection officers for Jammeh and a former National Intelligence Agency senior official.
Jammeh's rule was marked by widespread abuses, including forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, torture and arbitrary detention.
He crafted a religious persona, preaching sermons and claiming to cure HIV and heal the sick.
Jammeh is accused of stealing up to US$1 billion (R14.4 billion) from state coffers.