Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gambia confirm first executions in 27 years

President Jammeh pledged to have all death row inmates executed by mid-September. Photo | BBC |
The Government of The Gambia Monday confirmed it killed nine death row prisoners. It said they were killed by firing squad on Sunday August 26.

The government had earlier denied reports that the prisoners were executed on the night of August 23, four days after President Yahya Jammeh vowed “his government will execute all death sentences in the country by September.”

The inmates are among 47 death row prisoners waiting to be killed, amid international outcry for their lives to be spared.  

“The rule of law as regards the peace and stability and the protection of lives, property and liberty the release went on, will not be compromised for whatever reason and that all sentences as prescribed by law will be carried out to the letter including the death penalty,” Gambia’s Ministry of Interior said in an August 27 statement.

International response

“We are appalled that the Gambian authorities carried out the nine executions and urge them to ensure that no further executions take place,” said Amnesty International in response to the official confirmation of the killings. “The death penalty is always the ultimate denial of human rights and in these cases the government has compounded the inhumanity by giving little or no notice to either the prisoners or their families.” 

Amnesty demanded that “Gambian authorities must immediately return the prisoners’ bodies to their relatives, and declare an official moratorium on the death penalty.”

 “I strongly condemn the executions that took place last week in the Gambia, and call for a halt to further executions,” Mr. Christof Heyns United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions 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.”

Markus Löning, the Germany’s Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, said: “I am appalled at reports that nine people were executed in the Gambia at the weekend. Immediately after the President’s announcement that all prisoners sentenced to death would be executed, I intervened vis à vis the Embassy of the Gambia. I requested that no executions be carried out and made clear that Germany is strongly opposed to the death penalty.”

 “I strongly condemn the executions which have reportedly taken place on Thursday 23 August 2012, following President Jammeh’s stated intention to carry out all death penalties before mid September,” the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton said.I demand the immediate halt of the executions.”

"The decision of the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to execute nine prisoners after more than a quarter of a century without execution would be a giant leap backwards," Paule Rigaud, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Africa region said.

Crimes & victims

The Interior Ministry presided by Mr. Ousman Sonko said the nine: Dawda Bojang, Malang Sonko, Ex-Lieutenant Lamin Jarjou, Ex-Sgt. alias Ex Lt. Alieu Bah, Ex Sgt. Lamin F Jammeh, Tabara Samba, Buya Yarbo, Lamin BS Darboe and Gebe Bah  were executed for crimes such as murder and treason which carries the death penalty.

Dawda Bojang, Gambian: Convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for murder by Kanifing Magistrates’ Court on 29 August 2007 had his sentence substituted with death on 30 July 2010 following a dismissed appeal against his life sentence. 

Malang Sonko, Gambian: Convicted and sentenced to death for murder by Brikama Magistrates’ Court on 30 January, 2012 by the Brikama Magistrates Court. He did not appeal against that verdict.

Ex Lieutenant Lamin Jarjou, Ex Sgt. Alias Ex. Lt. Alieu Bah, and Ex Sgt. Lamin F. Jammeh, Gambians:  Were convicted and sentenced to death by the High Court of the Gambia for treason, murder on 27 October, 1998. Their appeals dismissed.

Tabara Samba, Senegalese: Convicted and sentenced to death for murder on 26 September, 2007. Appeal dismissed.

Buba Yarboe, Gambian: Convicted and sentenced to death by the High Court for murder on 3 November, 2010. He did not appeal against his sentence and conviction.

Lamin B.S. Darboe, Gambian: Convicted and sentenced to death on 3 December, 1986. Appeal dismissed on 13 June 1988.

Gebe Bah, Senegalese: Convicted and sentenced to death for murder on 30 January 2004. His appeal was dismissed.


In an August 19 statement broadcasted on State TV, GRTS to mark the Muslim feast of Eid-al-Fitr, President Jammeh announced to the nation that by the middle of September all existing death sentences would be “carried out to the letter”. 

38 people are still believed to remain on death row in the tiny West African country, whose government has been persistently accused of human rights abuses. The last official execution in the country took place in 1985.

Before these executions, 22 of the 54 member states of the African Union were abolitionist in practice including The Gambia, and 16 others were abolitionist in law for all crimes.

Written by Modou S. Joof



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