Gambia confirms nine executions by firing squad


Gambian incumbent Yahya Jammeh (L) speaks with his wife, Zeineb Souma Jammeh, on Nov. 24, 2011 as he leaves a polling station in the capital Banjul after voting in the presidential elections. Gambians voted on Nov. 24 in polls, which some observers said were skewed in favor of Jammeh, who heaped scorn on criticism that his regime is repressive.



Gambia drew international condemnation after confirming it had executed nine prisoners as part of President Yahya Jammeh’s controversial plan to carry out all death penalties by mid-September.

The Interior Ministry issued a statement today saying nine people, including one woman, were shot dead by firing squad on Sunday, the Agence France-Presse reported.

The statement suggested all 47 death row inmates would be killed by the middle of next month, as announced by Jammeh earlier this month.

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"All sentences as prescribed by law will be carried out to the letter including the death penalty," it said.

Amnesty International reported the executions on Saturday, a day before the government said they happened. The rights group said they were a "hugely retrograde step" for the West African nation.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton condemned the executions and demanded they stop.

"In light of these executions, the European Union will urgently consider an appropriate response," Ashton said in a statement cited by AFP.

Reuters said the statement issued by the Gambian Interior Ministry named the prisoners and listed a range of crimes punishable by death, such as murder.

In a televised address to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Fitr earlier this month, Jammeh said: “All punishments prescribed by law will be maintained in the country to ensure that criminals get what they deserve: that is, that those who kill are killed ... By the middle of next month, all the death sentences would have been carried out to the letter."

The BBC reported that the death penalty was abolished in Gambia during the administration of former president Dawda Jawara, who led the country from 1970 to 1994. 

Jammeh reintroduced the penalty in 1995 after seizing power in a coup.

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