Gambia Commutes 22 Death Sentences

By Abdoulie John

The Gambia’s Attorney General and Justice Minister, Aboubacarr Tambadou, said Tuesday that President Adama Barrow has commutted the death sentence of 22 inmates to life imprisonment after they were convicted of capital murder.

The move, he said, is in line with government’s commitment to upholding the moratorium declared by the Gambian leader on the implementation of death penalty.

Tambadou made the announcement during a news conference held at the Ministry of Justice located along Marina Parade in Banjul.

The Gambia made headlines in 2012 after former longtime ruler endorsed the execution of 9 death row inmates, provoking waves of condemnations across the globe. The new administration has since vowed to right the wrongs of the past in taking a stance against the implementation of capital punishment. Right groups highly welcomed the country’s commitment to improve the rights of citizens.

Justice Minister Tambadou said Gambian courts will continue to follow the law in delivering death sentence for convicted murderers, despite echoes raised by Amnesty International on three death sentences. “I’m afraid that is still the law. The death penalty is a constitutional provision,” Mr. Tambadou said. “We’ve seen how the death penalty has divided public opinion in the country.”

However, he was quick to add that government has expressed its preference for total abolition of death penalty. “I can assure you that no one will be executed,” he said with certitude.

While highlighting the government’s position on the issue of death penalty, Minister Tambadou pointed out that what will be in the Constitution will depend on Gambians.

The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) is currently conducting massive consultations on the country’s Fundamental Law. “We will wait for the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) to conclude its work and the gov’t will decide in the best interest of our country,” he remarked.


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