The Gambian President has decided to execute all death row inmates in just a matter of days, despite the serious concerns over whether the inmates received fair trials at all. There’s no time for appeals or questions.
And to prove President Yahya Jammeh means every word — the executions have already begun. This past weekend, nine individuals were dragged from their cells without warning or good-byes and executed. Just like that.
The prisoners were lined up and shot by firing squad. Now 38 others are at extreme risk of meeting the same end.
President Yahya Jammeh has set mid-September 2012 — that’s no more than 3 weeks from now — as a deadline for carrying out this sickening plan. But he’s already proven that he’s not willing to wait long.
The only thing close to an explanation the President has given was during the televised speech in which he announced these plans, claiming that he wants “to rid the country of all criminals”.
This is no way for a justice system, or a President for that matter, to operate. The death penalty in Gambia is often used to punish political dissent, disguised as “treason”. President Jammeh has a history of making these kinds of cruel and outrageous remarks. He’s recently threatened to behead all homosexuals and has urged Gambians to stop buying newspapers so that journalists would starve to death.
What’s more shocking — the executions Gambia carried out last week were the first in 27 years — effectively ending an unofficial moratorium! Gambia is now the first West African country to execute prisoners in recent history.
These executions are a major blow to the global movement to abolish the death penalty. They violate international and regional human rights standards to which Gambia is a party. We can’t let Gambia take a giant leap backwards for human rights — stop the executions now!
Country Specialist, Gambia
Amnesty International USA