Gambia suspends death penalty in step towards abolition

Gambia suspends death penalty in step towards abolition

Addressing the nation at Gambia’s 53rd Independence Anniversary celebration on Sunday, Gambian President Adama Barrow [BBC profile] announced [press release] the suspension of the death penalty.

Barrow stated, “at this junction, 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.”

The Gambia has not used the death penalty since 2012, where former president Yahya Jammeh [BBC profile] executed nine soldiers by firing squad. Jammeh was the first president to peacefully hand over power since The Gambia’s independence in 1965. However, prior to his departure in 2017, Jammeh had threatened to expand a list of capital crimes in response to what he said was a rising crime rate.

Nevertheless, soon after Barrow’s successful election in 2016, the president signed a UN treaty to enact the abolition of capital punishment.

Barrow said, “we have won the war against dictatorship, which is the easy part. Maintiaing the peace for our democracy to thrive will be our utmost challenge.” He added that, “mistakes will be made, but we will correct them as we work towards perfecting the New Gambia.”

In recent years, surrounding African nations such as Benin, the Republic of Congo and Guinea have all taken steps to end the death penalty.