Saturday, May 5, 2012

Gambia Recorded 13 New Death Sentences in 2011

Friday, May 04, 2012 

Former CDS Tamba in death row after conviction on treason

The Gambia in 2011 alone imposed 13 new death sentences, according to Amnesty International, an international human rights watchdog.

The sentences were handed down for murder and treason after trials described as “often grossly unfair.”

Amnesty expressed concern that in the majority of countries where people were sentenced to death or executed, the death penalty was imposed after proceedings that did not meet international fair trial standards. 

“In 2011 people continued to be sentenced to death or executed for crimes that did not involve the intention to kill resulting in the loss of life, therefore not meeting the threshold of “most serious crimes.”

The Gambia was among the first countries in Africa to abolish the death penalty. Since Gambian independence in 1965, a death sentence has been carried out only once, when Constable Mustapha Danso was executed for the murder of Deputy Field Force Commander, Eku Mahoney in 1980.  

In his autobiography, Kairaba, former President Dawda K Jawara described the killing as the first shot of the events of the 30 July 1981 abortive coup. His government however abolished the death sentence in the early 1990s. 

But, President Yahya Jammeh’s government alarmed the world when it re-instated the death penalty in 1995 - a year after his military takeover – for murder and treason offences.
Over two dozen people have been sentenced to death in The Gambia since then. None have been executed in that time, but neither has anyone been pardoned or had their sentences reduced. 

Meanwhile, according to Amnesty International, at least 1,923 people were known to have been sentenced to death in 63 countries in 2011. This represents a decrease from the 2010 figure of at least 2,024 death sentences worldwide.

In contrast, at least 676 executions were known to have been carried out in 20 countries worldwide in 2011. This is an increase on the 2010 figure of at least 527 executions worldwide. 

The following methods of executions were used in 2011 in the following countries: beheading (Saudi Arabia), hanging (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, North Korea, Palestinian Authority (Gaza), South Sudan, Sudan), lethal injection (China, Taiwan, USA), and shooting (Belarus, China, North Korea, Palestinian Authority (Gaza), Somalia, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Yemen).

China executed 1000s, more people than the rest of the world put together, followed by Iran where 360 plus were executed and Saudi Arabia over 82. 

While still accounting for the majority of the world’s executions, in 2011 the Chinese authorities continued to shroud the country’s use of the death penalty in secrecy, Amnesty claims.

Although in 2011 the Chinese government eliminated the death penalty for 13 crimes, mainly white-collar offences, for which executions were rarely carried out, it retained the death penalty for many other non-violent crimes, such as corruption and drug-trafficking.

Meanwhile, positive steps towards restricting the use of the death penalty were recorded in several countries, including the reduction of the number of crimes punishable by the death penalty in China, The Gambia and Taiwan.

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