The Gambia’s President, Adama Barrow, announced a suspension of the death penalty in the West African country as part of attempts to remove elements of its past authoritarian rule and rebuild its international reputation
The Gambia’s President, Adama Barrow, announced a suspension of the death penalty in the West African country as part of attempts to remove elements of its past authoritarian rule and rebuild its international reputation.
Since taking office in 2017, President Barrow has tried to repair some of the damage done by his predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, during his 23-year rule, including re-introducing The Gambia into the Commonwealth.
In 2013, former President Jammeh withdrew the country from the Commonwealth, calling it a “neo-colonial institution”, and previously in 2012 drew international criticism for the government-ordered execution by firing squad of 9 prisoners.
His rule was marked by hostile relationships with foreign governments and many human rights abuses.
The former leader lost his re-election bid in 2017 and subsequently fled the country.
According to Amnesty International, capital punishment is on the decline across Africa, with executions falling from 43 in 2015 to 22 in 2016.
In a speech to mark the 53rd anniversary of The Gambia’s independence from Britain, Barrow said: “I will use this opportunity to declare a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in The Gambia, as a first step towards abolition.”
In a statement to The Independent, Amnesty International researcher for West Africa Sabrina Mahtani said: “This is a positive step forward for Gambia when just six years ago people on death row were tragically executed and abolition seemed a pipe dream.
“By suspending the death penalty, undertaking a constitutional review process and commencing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Gambia is demonstrating its commitment to break with its past history of human rights abuses.”
“We hope Gambia will lead the way, as no Anglophone country in West Africa has yet abolished the death penalty.”
Read More: The Gambia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ousainu Darboe, marked the return of the West African country to the Commonwealth in a press briefing on February 9, 2018, describing the organisation as a catalyst and model of international cooperation