All Death Row Prisoners to be Executed Within a Month, Says Gambian President

Gambian president Yahya Jammeh shocked world amnesty leaders when he announced that all inmates sentenced to death should be executed in the next month. He made the announcement during a televised meeting with Muslim leaders during a celebration of the Muslim holiday Eid-al-Fitr, the BBC notes. President Jammeh made a bold statement saying, “By the middle of next month, all the death sentences would have been carried out to the letter; there is no way my government will allow 99% of the population to be held to ransom by criminals.”

The west African country has had no executions there for the past 27 years, according to Amnesty International. The statement was met with resistance from the African Union. The president of Benin, Thomas Boni Yayi condemned the statement, and called for the plan to cease immediately.

President Jammeh stood behind his statement saying that the death penalty must be carried out in order to curb the tide of crimes in Gambia. The Star notes that the death penalty was introduced as a punishment for those caught carrying 250 grams of cocaine or heroin back in 2010.

Amnesty International condemned President Jammeh’s comments this week. Audrey Gaughran of the organization’s Africa chapter voiced strong disapproval of the new measure:

President Jammeh’s comments are deeply troubling and will undoubtedly cause severe anguish to those on death row and their families… Any attempt to carry out this threat would be both deeply shocking and a major set-back for human rights in Gambia.

The President’s statement is in stark contrast to the trend, both in West Africa and globally, towards ending the use of the death penalty.

The death penalty was only recently reinstated in Gambia back in 1995 after Yahya Jammeh took control of the central government in 1994. It remains unclear how many people are affected by this statement, but the BBC reports that 47 death row inmates were housed in Gambia at the time of Jammeh’s statement. Reports surfaced this week that nine prisoners, including one female, were taken from their cells on Thursday night and executed, leading many amnesty leaders to call for the plans to come to a halt. One security source told AFP that the Gambian president is determined to execute them all and that the remaining prisoners are all stationed in one place now.

Jammeh has said he would rule Gambia for as long as Allah wills it. Amnesty’s Audrey Gaughran also expressed concern that many of the trials that landed people in prison to begin with might have been rigged, stating, “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.”

Yahya Jammeh has made headlines before for his outspoken stance on human and LGBT rights. In April, he made a speech in which he said he would refuse foreign aid if it meant that LGBT rights had to be considered, calling the gay community “ungodly” in a speech. At least 15 people have been arrested in Gambia this year on charges of homosexuality. President Jammeh has continued his controversial stance into the summer months, making other African leaders concerned about his human rights record.

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15 Arrested

Photo Credit: IISD/Earth Negotiations Bulletin


Carolanne Powell
C Powell5 years ago

I have been to the Gambia several times & it is unfortunetly not as safe as it once was. I was mugged the time before last I travelled & the mugger appeared to be off his face on something. However, the death penalty is out dated & subject to misuse. Come on President Jammeh, get with the 20th century.

Dorothy C.
Dorothée C5 years ago

Syd H. Your homophobic and islamophobic comments, are stupid!

Huber F.
Huber F5 years ago

marcheal isn't this going a bit too far?

Syd Henley
Syd H5 years ago

It is a very rare event (almost unheard of in fact) for me to agree with anything that is said or done by any muslim nations or individuals. But in this case, I have to agree 100% with President Jammeh.
Drug smugglers, Drug dealers, Murderers, and such like vile criminals should be executed. The decent, law abiding people of any nation should never be expected to keep such filth in comparative luxury.
Maybe executing homosexuals is going a little bit over the top, unless they have been convicted of some other capital crime such as child molesting or attempting to force their unnatural behaviour on ordinary adults and children, which is not uncommon.

Stephanie Hungerford

This is wrong I think he needs to be subject to his own medicine. It is obvious that he isn't going to stop until he is perminatly stopped by his capture or assassination. I am a person that believes in using the death penalty only for those that have committed murder, or multiple violent rapes, and violent kidnapping. But the evidence has to be very clear like in the Colorado shooting or if the Recent New York shooter had survived putting him to death would have been justified

Pat C.
Pat C5 years ago

I understand, too, that all prisoners were already executed.

Nimue Pendragon
Nimue Michelle P5 years ago

Signed your petition, Soren. Thanks for the green star, right back at you.

Soren Groth Petersen

Sign the urgent petition to Halt executions in Gambia:

“We are appalled that the Gambian authorities carried out the nine executions the 26th August, a week after President Yahya Jammeh vowed to carry out all death sentences by mid-September. We urge them to ensure that no further executions take place,”

Lyneane Lewis
Lyneane Lewis5 years ago

Marcheal G. I agree with you. Waste of tax money.

There is evidence that these murderes, gangster, serial killers have taken innocent lives. They are repeat offenders of their actions.

Please explain to why they should be shown any mercy when their victims where not shown any?

No I'm not a Muslim, I'm a realist.

Parvez Zuberi
Parvez Zuberi5 years ago

Justice should be fast and swift Why blame Muslims execution take place in America also