This post is also available in: Italian
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh announced 15 September he was suspending executions of the – remaining – 38 inmates on death row.
“The general public at home and abroad is hereby informed that President Yahya Jammeh has decided to put a moratorium on executions as a result of numerous appeals to that effect from the council of elders, women groups as well as youth groups across the country,” his office said in a statement.
Mr Jammeh’s statement said the suspension of the executions followed numerous appeals at home and abroad, but warned that the halt could be temporary.
Jammeh’s office said international pressure had played a part in the decision to suspend executions. Jammeh succumbed to international, regional and domestic pressure.
Neighboring countries had pressured Gambia to stay the executions: Ivory Coast, President Alassane Ouattara; Mauritania, President Mohamed Uld Abdel Aziz, and; Senegal, President Macky Sall and Ex-Prime Minister Souleymane Ndéné Ndiaye – Gambia is completely surrounded by Senegal, with the exception of a small strip of Atlantic coastline-Benin, which currently holds the chair of the African Union, sent its foreign minister to The Gambia to warn Mr Jammeh not to carry out any executions.
The executions by firing squad prompted many condemnations including from the European Union and the United Nations.
Human rights groups, nearly 50 international organizations, Humanist activists and thousands citizens around the world have opposed the executions.
Amnesty International has also condemned Gambia’s increasing use of the death penalty over the past few years, claiming that some were sentenced for crimes of a political nature and suffered torture and harsh treatment to extract ‘confessions’. “Unfair trials are commonplace in the country, where death sentences are known to be used as a tool against the political opposition and international standards on fair trials are not respected,” said Audrey Gaughran, the Africa Director for Amnesty International, in an earlier report on the Gambia executions.
RADDHO called Saturday for the international community to keep up its pressure on Jammeh
The head of Senegal-based rights group RADDHO said: “It was pressure from non-governmental organisations and international resolve that forced him to back down,” RADDHO president Alioune Tine said. “But the underlying problem remains the climate of terror that still rules in Gambia, with arrests, and summary executions. Everyone who dares to speak out against the situation is in exile,” he said. We have closed our eyes to all this for too long and the international community must continue to pressure the regime.”
Jammeh seized power in a 1994 coup and has long been criticized for his government’s poor human rights record.
Original story… Gambia: Yahya Jammeh’s Countless murders, torture, exiled victims
“This stream of executions is a major step backwards for the country, and for the protection of the right to life in the world as a whole”: from the report sent to the email interchange platform of the International Federation of Humanist Parties, or Humanist International, from IFHP member Mercedes Guerrero.
There have been nine executions in Gambia and 38 prisoners may suffer the same fate. Friends of this small country have contacted me today. They are terrified because, in addition to the executions, are occurring arrests, killings and torture. The list of victims is rising (letter written by a Gambian in USA):
I am sending an attachment with letter I have written that was sent personally as a “citizen of the world” through the website of the President to protest those executions in Gambia. If you agree, you can copy it and send it back, the more denounciations, the more cause and effect. Better if protests also include names of organizations, associations, etc. as this president cares very little about people.
A big hug,
To: Dr. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh, President of the Republic of Gambia
Christof Heyns, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions urged the Republic of The Gambia to refrain from executing 39 more death-row inmates and condemn the executions that took place in the Gambia, and call for a halt to further executions.
Heyns said “I am concerned that death sentences were imposed in violation of major international standards, including the most serious crimes provisions. According to available evidence, the trials did not meet due process safeguards,” Heyns said. “The executions were carried out in secrecy, away from the public and from the families, and do not meet the requirements of transparency.”
Heyns also said. “This stream of executions is a major step backwards for the country, and for the protection of the right to life in the world as a whole.”
Letter sent to Jammeh: “I, a citizen of the world, call on the Government of The Gambia to ensure that its own internal laws are respected and followed, and to uphold its international obligations under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I, a citizen of the world, call on President Jammeh to immediately halt all executions in order to review all of The Gambia’s capital cases and ensure that they are in accordance with The Gambia’s domestic law and its international obligations.
return to: Mercedes Guerrero – firstname.lastname@example.org