Calls for halt to Gambia executions
18 September 2012, 08:53
Dakar - Rights group Amnesty International Monday called on Gambia to
order a permanent halt to all executions and conduct a "transparent"
review of the cases of some 38 prisoners currently on death row.
Friday Gambian President Yahya Jammeh announced a temporary moratorium
on executions as the deadline he set for carrying out all death
sentences neared, bowing to international pressure after putting to
death nine prisoners last month.
"The president's announcement of
a conditional moratorium is simply not good enough," said Lisa
Sherman-Nikolaus, Amnesty's Gambia researcher.
moratorium permanent, with a view to abolishing the death penalty in
law, is necessary to ease some of the anxiety of the death row inmates
and their families," she said.
Amnesty also urged Gambia to have
"a transparent review of all death penalty cases" and for the
legislature to take up the issue.
At least two of the nine
prisoners executed by firing squad on 29 August were killed without
legal appeals, even though the Gambian constitution mandates that all
death row inmates must have their appeal heard all the way to the
Supreme Court, according to Amnesty.
The London-based rights
group added that it is concerned that Gambia's judiciary is not
independent from political pressures and that the use of "confessions"
obtained under duress are prevalent.
According to Jammeh's office,
international pressure had played a part in the decision to suspend
executions, including from Ivory Coast, Mauritania and Senegal. Jammeh
however has said he would "never bow down to outside pressure or
pressure from any group."
Last month's executions followed an
announcement 10 days earlier by Jammeh that the country planned to
execute all death row prisoners by mid-September.
estimate another 38 convicts face firing squad deaths in the small west
African country almost completely surrounded by Senegal. Jammeh, who
seized power in a 1994 coup, rules with an iron fist and tolerates no