GAMBIA URGED TO STOP PRISONER EXECUTIONS
August 30, 2012: International Organizations have called on Gambia to stop executing death row inmates.
On August 30, the United Nations human rights chief urged Gambia to impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty, after nine people were executed on August 23 and President Yahya Jammeh announced that all remaining death row inmates would be executed, by firing squad, by mid-September.
â€śI urge the Gambia to immediately stem this regression in human rights protection, and to impose an official moratorium, effective immediately, on the use of the death penalty,â€ť said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.
â€śThe statement by President Yahya Jammeh that all remaining death sentences would be carried out by mid-September is extremely worrying, and raises serious questions about the motivation behind the sudden rush to execute,â€ť she added.
On August 26, the European Union called on Gambia to stop executing death row inmates and said the bloc would come up with a quick but unspecified response to executions reported last week.
"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," EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.
"I demand the immediate halt of the executions," she added.
"In light of these executions, the European Union will urgently consider an appropriate response," Ashton said.
On August 24 the African Union asked Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh to renounce plans to execute all death row prisoners next month.
Mr Jammeh made the comment during a speech he gave to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid.
In response, Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi, who is the current chair of the African Union, sent his foreign minister to The Gambia.
"After having learned of the imminent execution of a number of prisoners sentenced to death, President Yayi, who is very concerned, wished that President Yahya Jammeh not carry out such a decision," Beninois Foreign Minister Nassirou Bako Arifari told BBC Afrique. (Sources: Reuters, 26/08/2012; UN News Centre, 30/08/2012)