Gambia Vows To Execute All Death Row Inmates By September, Sparking Outcry

Gambian president Yahya Jammeh says all 44 people on death row will be executed by mid-September.

Gambia plans to execute all death row prisoners by September, the
president said this week, sparking condemnation from human rights groups
worldwide. 

The tiny West African nation last executed an inmate about 30 years ago.
It is unclear what prompted the change in stance.
By the end of last year, Gambia had 44 people on death row, including two women, according to human rights activists.
Death row convicts will
be executed by mid-September, President Yahya Jammeh said in a speech on
state media Sunday that was rebroadcast Monday.
“All those guilty of
serious crimes and are condemned will face the full force of the law,”
he said. “All punishments prescribed by law will be maintained in the
country to ensure that criminals get what they deserve: that is, that
those who kill are killed … By the middle of next month, all the death
sentences would have been carried out to the letter.”
The nation imposes
capital punishment for various crimes, including murder and treason, the
latter commonly used to stifle dissent in some African nations.
In 2010, British human rights group Reprieve said Gambia had introduced the death penalty for those found with more than 250 grams of cocaine or heroin. It’s unclear whether the law still stands.
Amnesty International, the French government and other rights groups condemned the execution order.
“President Jammeh’s
comments are deeply troubling and will undoubtedly cause severe anguish
to those on death row and their families,” said Audrey Gaughran, the
Africa director for Amnesty. “Any attempt to carry out this threat would
be both deeply shocking and a major setback for human rights in
Gambia.”
International standards on fair trials are not followed in the country, according to Gaughran.

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“Death sentences are
known to be used as a tool against the political opposition,”
she said.
“The number of grossly unfair trials is shocking and an especially
serious concern in cases where the death penalty is handed down.”
In 2009, Jammeh made a
similar threat to resume executions, but did not act on it, Amnesty
said. Nonetheless, the new threat raises concern in the nation, the
group said.
The former British colony is surrounded by Senegal and has a population of 1.3 million.
Jammeh took power in a
military coup in 1994, and was elected president two years later. The
government represses political opposition groups, and the president has
won all elections since he came to power. Most of the polls are tainted
by allegations of fraud.
Gambia’s human rights
record has drawn steady criticism since his election, but the president
has won supporters by building new hospitals, schools and other
infrastructure.

Edition.cnn.com 

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