Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Friday announced it received credible reports [press release] that nine prisoners in Gambia [JURIST news archive], which has gone more than 25 years without an execution, were executed on Thursday. The reported executions come less than a week after Gambian President Yahya Jammeh [official website] vowed to execute all death row inmates. Jammeh claims it is Gambia's prerogative to execute the prisoners who have exhausted all other legal options and says their sentences will be "carried out to the letter." AI called on Jammeh to issue a moratorium on the use of the death penalty [JURIST news archive] and join the majority of countries in the African Union (AU) [official website] who do not impose the death penalty.
The issue of the death penalty continues to be debated on an international level as well as in individual states in the US. In July, Singapore announced it planned to relax mandatory death sentences in certain cases [JURIST report]. Just one week before, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] called for an end to capital punishment [JURIST report]. In April, an initiative in California dealing with overhauling death penalty laws in the state made it on to the ballot for a November vote.