WABA Tells Yahaya Jammeh: Establish An Immediate Moratorium On All Executions

Statement On The Resumption Of Executions In The Gambia The West African Bar Association {WABA} has confirmed that nine inmates on death row in The Gambian Prisons were executed by firing squad on Sunday 26th August 2012. The names of the inmates are: Dawda Bojang; Malang Sonko; Ex-Lieutenant Lamin Jarjou; Ex-Lieutenant Alieu Bah; Ex-Sergeant Lamin F. Jammeh; Buba Yarboe; Lamin B.S Darboe; Gebe Bah and Tambara Samba. The Gambian President Yahaya Jammeh had on the 20 August 2012 in a television address broadcast to mark the Muslim feast of Eid-al-Fitri, announced that by the middle of September 2012, all existing death sentences would be “carried out to the letter’. In Gambia, capital punishment can be imposed for murder and treason. Three of the reportedly executed had been sentenced for treason. There are presently a total of 47 persons on death row in The Gambia. WABA expresses its regret that the executions were carried out despite the intervention of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights which urged the The Gambia “to continue to maintain the commendable action of observing a moratorium on all executions”. The last execution in The Gambia took place in 1985. The Gambia has till now been classified as abolitionist in practice.   WABA is particularly concerned that The Gambia has resumed executions at a time when concerns have been raised about the independence of the legal Profession in The Gambia. WABA has severally expressed its concern that The Gambian Bar Association has been unable to hold meetings or function in any capacity due to constant threats and intimidation by Gambian security agents.   WABA firmly believes that a legal system that cannot guarantee the independence of the legal profession cannot produce results that are fair and just especially in criminal trials. A system that must take life must first give justice.   WABA therefore calls on President Jammeh to establish an immediate moratorium on all executions in The Gambia in line with the resolution of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and to take all necessary measures to ensure that remaining prisoners on death row are not executed.   WABA further calls on President Jammeh to guarantee the independence of the legal profession in The Gambia and to take urgent and practical steps to stop the harassment, treats and intimidation of The Gambian Bar Association. Signed: Olawale Fapohunda, General Secretary, West African Bar Association @Abuja, Nigeria, 29 August 2012