Death Penalty Database

Gambia

Information current as of: September 10, 2012

General

Official Country Name

Republic of the Gambia (Gambia). [1]

Geographical Region

Africa (Western Africa). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Retentionist. Gambia carried out executions in 2012. [3]

Methods of Execution

Hanging.
Under the Gambia Criminal Code, the method of execution used is chosen by the Minister of Justice, who “may issue instructions as to the manner in which sentence of death shall be carried out,” provided that the Minister ensures that “the executions are carried out expeditiously.” [4] The Minister can also create rules to “[guard] against any abuse in the execution as also of giving greater solemnity thereto, and …[make] known outside the prison walls that the execution is taking or has taken place.” [5]

Historically, the Criminal Code provided that executions were to be carried out by hanging. [6] Amnesty International’s 1989 publication When the State Kills identifies hanging as the sole method of execution.However, executions were carried out in 2012 by firing squad. [7]

Shooting.
(firing squad).Under the Gambia Criminal Code, the method of execution used is chosen by the Minister of Justice, who “may issue instructions as to the manner in which sentence of death shall be carried out,” provided that the Minister ensures that “the executions are carried out expeditiously.” [8] The Minister can also create rules to “[guard] against any abuse in the execution as also of giving greater solemnity thereto, and …[make] known outside the prison walls that the execution is taking or has taken place.” [9] Executions were carried out in 2002 by firing squad. [10]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Gambia, http://www.state.gov/outofdate/bgn/gambiathe/191336.htm, Nov. 5, 2011.
[2] U.N. World Macro Regions and Components, U.N. Doc. ST/ESA/STAT/SER.R/29, 2000.
[3] Amnesty Intl., The Gambia: The Gambian government must not carry out any further executions of death row prisoners, AFR 27/009/2012, Sep. 5, 2012.
[4] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 28(1), Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[5] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 253(7), Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[6] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 28(1), Act No. 25 of 1933, Dec. 1933.
[7] Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, Despite critics, Gambia plans dozens of executions, NPR, www.npr.org/2012/08/29/160166098/despite-critics-gambia-plans-dozens-of-executions, Aug. 29, 2012.
[8] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 28(1), Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[9] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 253(7), Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[10] Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, Despite critics, Gambia plans dozens of executions, NPR, www.npr.org/2012/08/29/160166098/despite-critics-gambia-plans-dozens-of-executions, Aug. 29, 2012.

Country Details

Language(s)

English. [1]

Population

1,780,000. (2009). [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

There are at least 38 or 39 people on death row in Gambia (Amnesty International reports at least 38, and Civil Society Associations Gambia reports 39). Some of these may still have pending appeals. [3]

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2017 to date (last updated on December 6, 2017)

0. [4]

Executions in 2016

0. [5]

Per capita execution rate in 2016

Executions in 2015

0. [6]

Per capita execution rate in 2015

0 executions.

Executions in 2014

0. [7]

Per capita execution rate in 2014

0 executions

Executions in 2013

0. [8]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

0 executions

Executions in 2012

9. [9]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

1 execution per 197,777 persons

Executions in 2011

0. [10]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

0 executions

Executions in 2010

0. [11]

Executions in 2009

0. [12]

Executions in 2008

0. [13]

Executions in 2007

0. [14]

Year of Last Known Execution

2012. [15]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Gambia, http://www.state.gov/outofdate/bgn/gambiathe/191336.htm, Nov. 5, 2011.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Gambia, http://www.state.gov/outofdate/bgn/gambiathe/191336.htm, Nov. 5, 2011.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Dozens of death row prisoners in Gambia risk imminent execution, http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/dozens-death-row-prisoners-gambia-risk-imminent-execution-2012-08-29, Aug. 29, 2012. Civil Society Associations Gambia, List of Death Row (Mile 2 Central Prisons) Inmates, Aug. 24, 2012.
[4] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[5] Amnesty International, Death sentences and executions in 2016, ACT 50/5740/2017, Apr. 11, 2017.
[6] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[9] Amnesty Intl., The Gambia: The Gambian government must not carry out any further executions of death row prisonersDeath Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 26, 2011, AFR 27/009/2012, Sep. 5, 2012. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 8, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[15] Amnesty Intl., The Gambia: The Gambian government must not carry out any further executions of death row prisonersDeath Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 26, 2011, AFR 27/009/2012, Sep. 5, 2012..

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Murder.
A person who “of malice aforethought causes the death of another person by an unlawful act or omission commits murder.” [1] Murder is punished by death. [2]

The Criminal Code provides an exception for infanticide (a mother killing her child if the child is less than a year old and if her mind is disturbed), which is not characterized as murder. [3]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
Using violence in the commission or attempt of a felony is deemed to constitute “malice aforethought” and if it results in death is therefore considered murder and is punished by death. [4] Causing death while intending to facilitate the flight or escape of a person who has committed or attempted to commit a felony is also deemed to meet the intentional requirement of murder and is punished by death. [5]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Terrorism is broadly defined as an act of serious violence to person or property or other act damaging social, national or international resources, which is intended to intimidate the population or destabilize or destroy political, constitutional, economic or social structures or influence the government or an international organization. The penalty for committing terrorism is death. [6] A member of the armed forced charged with an act of terrorism is tried by a Court Martial and if found guilty, is liable to be sentenced to death. [7] The scope of the death penalty seems broader for military personnel than for civilians, in that the law could be interpreted to apply the death penalty for conspiracies by military personnel. [8] Under the Constitution, the death penalty is limited to cases where death is a result of the crime. [9]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Terrorism is broadly defined as an act of serious violence to person or property or other act damaging social, national or international resources which is intended to intimidate the population or destabilize or destroy political, constitutional, economic or social structures or influence the government or an international organization. The penalty for committing terrorism is death. [10] A member of the armed forced charged with an act of terrorism is tried by a Court Martial and if found guilty, is liable to be sentenced to death. [11] The scope of the death penalty seems broader for military personnel than for civilians, in that the law could be interpreted to apply the death penalty for conspiracies by military personnel. [12] Under the Constitution, the death penalty is limited to cases where death is a result of the crime, [13] but the text of the Anti-Terrorism Act sweeps more broadly, authorizing the imposition of the death penalty for any act of terrorism that is committed, whether or not it results in death.

Media articles, moreover, report that treason convictions do in practice result in death sentences even where the offender did not cause the death of any victim. Eight individuals were sentenced to death for treason in 2010, and their death sentences seem to have been pronounced despite reports that their actions were merely preparatory and did not result in death. [14] Application of the death penalty for treason not resulting in death is an explicit textual violation of Gambia’s Constitution. [15]

Treason.
Gambia’s national report to the Human Rights Council in relation to its Universal Periodic Review indicates that treason is punishable by death when it results in death. [16] However, the Criminal Code provides that death may be ordered for treason offenses not resulting in death, such as preparing in order to overthrow the government, alter laws or government policy, or usurp executive power; assisting the invasion of Gambia; assisting the enemy in time of war; attempting to cause the death of a member of government; or conspiring to do any of the above. [17]

Comments.
The death penalty was abolished in Gambia in 1993 and re-introduced in 1995. [18] In February 2010, Gambia’s presentation to the Human Rights Council in relation to its Universal Periodic Review stated that the death penalty “is applicable but is limited to murder and treasonable offences resulting in death.” [19] This statement is belied by legislation that allows capital punishment to be applied for offenses of treason and terrorism that do not result in death. Furthermore, the Criminal Code classifies as “murder” offenses which do not meet the usual requirement that the offender have an actual (as opposed to a deemed) intent to kill (see discussion above.)

In October 2010, the National Assembly passed a short-lived law expanding the number of offenses to which the death penalty could be applied. The amendment to the Drug Control Act of 1993 (passed a few days after the end of the African Union Conference of Ministers for Drug Control and Crime Prevention) imposed a mandatory death sentence on offenders found with more than 250 grams of heroin or cocaine (characterized as “possession for the purpose of drug trafficking”). [20] Before the amendment, the sentence for this offense had been a minimum of10 years’ imprisonment. [21] Capital drug trafficking offenses contravene Article 18 of the Gambia Constitution, which prohibits the death penalty for offenses not resulting in death, and or this reason the Drugs Control Act was again amended in April 2011 in order to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment.

The October 2010 amendment to the Trafficking in Persons Act increased the mandatory minimum sentence for trafficking to 50 years (from 5 years), and made “grave” forms of trafficking (resulting in the rape or the death of the victim or where the victim is a child) a capital offense. [22] It seems that capital trafficking offenses were abolished in April 2011, [23] but we were unable to ascertain whether trafficking resulting in death, the only constitutionally permissible capital offense of the original amendment, [24] remains a capital offense after the 2011 amendment. However, we think it unlikely.

We do not know whether the President signed and enacted the October 2010 bill as it related to the proposed creation of capital forms of rape and armed robbery. [25] At the time capital punishment was abolished for drug offenses and trafficking, the Criminal Code was also amended, but the nature of those amendments is unclear. [26] We think it unlikely in light of the other amendments that armed robbery or rape are death eligible. Application of the death penalty for crimes not resulting in death is an explicit textual violation of Gambia’s Constitution. [27]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

Yes. The language of the Criminal Code distinguishes between offenses that “shall” be punished by death, and those that are “liable” to be punished by death. This interpretation is confirmed by a lecture delivered by Chief Justice Akomaye Agim on the topic of sentencing, during which he evokes offenses that are punished by a mandatory death sentence and the court has no discretion in imposing a sentence. [28] Moreover in a July 2010 murder case, the High Court ruled that the lower court had no sentencing discretion and that the death penalty was mandatory. [29] We therefore conclude that Gambia has a mandatory death penalty, even though Hood & Hoyle do not list Gambia as applying the mandatory death penalty. [30]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

Murder.
The language of the Criminal Code indicates that murder is punished by a mandatory death penalty. [31] This is confirmed by the case law that we found. In a July 2010 murder case, the High Court ruled that the lower court had no sentencing discretion and that the death penalty was mandatory. [32] The Supreme Court similarly stated that the death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder. [33]

Treason.
The language of the Criminal Code indicates that the mandatory death penalty applies to treason if it involved killing or attempting to kill a member of government or any citizen with a view to overthrowing the government or coercing any citizen to withdraw his or her support from the government. [34] Moreover, prior to 1993, the death penalty was considered mandatory for treason, [35] and the Death Penalty (Restoration) Act of 1995 restored the death penalty provisions as they existed before the death penalty’s temporary abolition in 1993. [36] We therefore disagree with commentators who believe murder is the only offense for which capital punishment is mandatory. [37]

Where there was no killing or attempt to kill, the sentence for treason may be either death or life imprisonment. [38] The imposition of the death penalty for treason involving an attempt to kill but not resulting in death is a violation of Article 18 of the Gambian Constitution, which prohibits capital punishment for offenses not resulting in death.

Comments.
For a brief period from October 2010 to April 2011, drug trafficking was punished with the mandatory death penalty for heroin and cocaine amounts over 250 grams. [39] The death penalty for drug offenses was abolished in April 2011 due to concerns over its constitutionality. [40] There were no convictions during the period when certain drug offenses were punished by death.

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

Murder.
Six of the nine people executed in August 2012 were sentenced for murder. Tabara Samba, a Senegalese woman, was convicted in September 2007 for murdering her reportedly abusive husband. Her appeal was rejected. [41] Buba Yabo, who suffered from serious mental illness, was sentenced in November 2010 for killing his mother. [42] Dawda Bojang was convicted of murdering a British national in July 2010, and was sentenced to death after appealing his life sentence. Malang Sonko was convicted of murder in January 2012. He filed no appeal. Lamin Darboe was convicted in 1986 of murdering a Mauritanian national. One appeal was rejected in 1988, and there are reports that another appeal was still pending at the time of his execution. [43] Gibril Bah, a Senegalese national, was convicted of murder in January 2004. His appeal was dismissed. [44]

Treason.
Three of the 9 people executed in August 2012 were sentenced for treason. [45] Ex-Lieutenant Lamin Jarjou, Ex- Sergeant alias Ex Lt. Alieu Bah and Ex-Sergeant Lamin F Jammeh were convicted of treason and murder in 1998 for their attack on the Kartong military barracks in 1997. Their appeal was rejected. [46]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
A person who was below the age of 18 at the time of the commission of the crime is not sentenced to death. In lieu of a death sentence, the President orders a term of imprisonment of a duration that he chooses. [47]

Moreover, section 204 of the Childrens’ Act provides that a child shall not be subjected to the criminal justice process or to criminal sanctions for adults, but will instead be subjected only to the rules of the child justice system. [48] The same Act prohibits both death sentences and prison sentences on children, [49] but notes that a discretionary period of detention may be ordered on a child defendant convicted of murder, manslaughter, treason, robbery, or assault with intent to cause grievous harm. [50]

This is in accordance with Gambia’s international obligations as a state party to the ICCPR, [51] the Convention on the Rights of the Child [52] and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, [53] which prohibit the execution of individuals for crimes committed prior to attaining the age of 18. Moreover, Gambia’s Constitution requires that national legislation comply with Gambia’s international obligations, [54] so that any juvenile execution would contravene domestic law as well.

Pregnant Women.
Under Gambia’s Criminal Code, a pregnant woman convicted of a death-eligible offense is sentenced to imprisonment for life. [55] Upon a death-sentenced woman’s allegation of pregnancy or upon the court’s own initiative, the trial judge will examine evidence with regard to pregnancy before sentencing. [56] The woman alleging pregnancy has the burden of proof. [57]

This is in accordance with Gambia’s international obligations as a party to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, [58] which prohibits the execution of pregnant women under Article 4(g).

Women With Small Children.
While we did not find any legislative provisions excluding women with small children from the death penalty, Gambia’s Constitution may limit its legislation in accordance with Gambia’s international obligations, [59] and Gambia has acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, [60] which prohibits the execution of nursing women under Article 4(g).

Mentally Ill.
A person found guilty of murder and found to be “suffering from such abnormality of mind (whether arising from a condition of arrested or retarded development of mind, or any inherent causes or induced by disease or injury) as substantially impaired his or her mental responsibility for his or her acts and omissions in doing or being a party to the murder” is not sentenced to death but detained “during the President’s pleasure.” [61] The burden of proving “abnormality of mind” lies with the defendant. [62] A defendant convicted of murder with diminished responsibility is treated like a person under the age of 18, and the president determines his or her sentence based on the trial record and recommendations by the presiding judge. [63]

Generally, a person is not criminally responsible for an offense if at the time it was committed, he was “through any disease affecting his or her mind incapable of understanding what he or she is doing, or of knowing that he or she ought not to do the act of make the omission.” [64]

However, there are reports that in August 2012, Gambia executed a man with a decade-long history of serious mental illness. [65]

Intellectually Disabled.
A person found guilty of murder and found to be “suffering from such abnormality of mind (whether arising from a condition of arrested or retarded development of mind, or any inherent causes or induced by disease or injury) as substantially impaired his or her mental responsibility for his or her acts and omissions in doing or being a party to the murder” is not sentenced to death but detained “during the President’s pleasure.” [66] The burden of proving “abnormality of mind” lies with the defendant. [67] A defendant convicted of murder with diminished responsibility is treated like a person under the age of 18, and the president determines his or her sentence based on the trial record and recommendations by the presiding judge. [68]

Generally, a person is not criminally responsible for an offense if at the time it was committed, he was “through any disease affecting his or her mind incapable of understanding what he or she is doing, or of knowing that he or she ought not to do the act of make the omission.” [69]

References

[1] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 187, Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[2] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 188, Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[3] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 197, Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[4] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 190(c), Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[5] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 190(d), Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[6] Gambia Anti-Terrorism Act, Act No. 6 of 2003, arts. 2, 3(1)(a), as amended by the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act, Act No. 2 of 2008.
[7] Gambia Anti-Terrorism Act, Act No. 6 of 2003, arts. 2, 3(2), as amended by the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act, Act No. 2 of 2008.
[8] Gambia Anti-Terrorism Act, Act No. 6 of 2003, Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002, arts. 2, 3(1)(b), 3(2), as amended by the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act, Act No. 2 of 2008as amended by the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) act of 2008.
[9] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 18, as amended through to 2002.
[10] Gambia Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002, arts. 2, 3(1)(a), as amended by the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) act of 2008.
[11] Gambia Anti-Terrorism Act, Act No. 6 of 2003, arts. 2, 3(2), as amended by the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act, Act No. 2 of 2008.
[12] Gambia Anti-Terrorism Act, Act No. 6 of 2003, Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002, arts. 2, 3(1)(b), 3(2), as amended by the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act, Act No. 2 of 2008as amended by the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) act of 2008.
[13] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 18, as amended through to 2002.
[14] See, among many others, African Online News, Gambian “Coup Plotters” Sentenced to Death, http://www.afrol.com/articles/36521, Jul. 15, 2010.
[15] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 18, as amended through to 2002.
[16] U.N.G.A., National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 15 (a) of the Annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1: Gambia, para. 12, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/7/GMB/1, Jan. 20, 2010. Saikou Jammeh, Gambia: Death Penalty Alive and Well, allAfrica.com, http://allafrica.com/stories/201012150134.html, Dec. 15, 2010.
[17] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 35, Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[18] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: Gambia, para. 8, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/75/GMB, Aug. 12, 2004. Gambia Death Penalty (Restoration) Act, Decree No. 52 of 1995, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:02.
[19] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Draft Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Gambia, para. 7, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/7/L.5, Mar. 2, 2010.
[20] Musa Ndow, Death sentence for drug dealers as Assembly amends Drug Control bill, Daily Observer, http://observer.gm/africa/gambia/article/death-sentence-for-drug-dealers-as-assembly-amends-drug-control-bill, Oct. 6, 2010.
[21] Drug Control Act of 2003, sec. 43, Laws of Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 13, cited in Andrew Novak, Legislative Note: The Abolition of the Death Penalty for Drug Offenses in The Gambia, p. 63, Commonwealth Law Bulletin, Vol. 38, No. 1, Mar. 2012.
[22] Hanibal Goitom, Gambia: National Assembly Approves Amendment to Anti-Human Traficking Law, Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l205402312_text, Oct. 13, 2010.
[23] Lamin B. Darboe, New Drug Control Act increases fine against offenders, The Point, http://thepoint.gm/africa/gambia/article/new-drug-control-act-increases-fine-against-offenders, Apr. 6, 2011. U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2012, Country Narratives: Countries G Through M, http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2012/192367.htm, Jun. 19, 2012. Hanibal Goitom, Gambia: Death Penalty for Drug Offenses Abolished, Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l205402619_text, Apr. 11, 2011.
[24] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 18, as amended through 2002.
[25] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 48th Annual Session, Agenda Items Relating to the Death Penalty, Annex: The Gambia, Nov. 10-24, 2010. The statement is available at the website of the World Organization Against Torture, http://www.omct.org/monitoring-protection-mechanisms/statements/gambia/2010/11/d20926/, last accessed Sep. 5, 2012. Jellofnews, Death Penalty for Drug Dealers, Rapists and Armed Robbers, http://www.jollofnews.com/death-penalty-for-drug-dealers-rapists-and-armed-robbers.html, Oct. 5, 2010 (online radio station). Saikou Jammeh, Jammeh Vows to Execute the Death Sentence, Daily News, http://dailynews.gm/africa/gambia/article/jammeh-vows-to-execute-the-death-sentence, Nov. 25, 2010.
[26] Hanibal Goitom, Gambia: Death Penalty for Drug Offenses Abolished, Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l205402619_text, Apr. 11, 2011.
[27] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 18, as amended through 2002.
[28] Hon. Emmanuel Akomaye Agim, Chief Justice, The Principles and Practices of Sentencing in The Gambia, Judicial Lecture presented at the training session organized for the magistrates and CADI’s, Judiciary of The Gambia, p. 24, http://www.gov.gm/judiciary/images/Publication/the%20principles%20and%20practice%20of%20sentencing%20in%20the%20gambia%20agim.pdf, Apr. 17, 2012.
[29] Dawda Bojang v. The State, Criminal case No. HC/332/07/CR/081/B0, High Court of Gambia, Jul. 30, 2010.
[30] Roger Hood & Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, p. 279, Oxford University Press, 4th ed., 2008.
[31] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 188, Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[32] Dawda Bojang v. The State, Criminal Case No. HC/332/07/CR/081/B0, High Court of Gambia, Jul. 30, 2010.
[33] Batch Samba Fye v. The State, SC Criminal Appeal No. 2/10, Gambia Supreme Court, Nov. 19, 2010.
[34] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 35(2), Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[35] Amnesty Intl., When the State Kills, p. 136, Amnesty Intl. Publications, 1989.
[36] Gambia Death Penalty (Restoration) Act, Decree No. 52 of 1995, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:02, repealing the Gambia Death Penalty (Abolition) Act of 1993.
[37] See e.g. Andrew Novak, Legislative Note: The Abolition of the Death Penalty for Drug Offenses in The Gambia, p. 65, Commonwealth Law Bulletin, Vol. 38, No. 1, Mar. 2012.
[38] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 35, Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[39] Andrew Novak, Legislative Note: The Abolition of the Death Penalty for Drug Offenses in The Gambia, p. 61, Commonwealth Law Bulletin, Vol. 38, No. 1, Mar. 2012.
[40] Hanibal Goitom, Gambia: Death Penalty for Drug Offenses Abolished, Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/lawweb/servlet/lloc_news?disp3_l205402619_text, Apr. 11, 2011.
[41] Kibaaro News, 9 Gambia Executions Confirmed, kibaaro.com/?p=2774, Aug. 24, 2012. Yankuba Jambang, Breaking News: Gambia Govt Confirms Execution of 9 Prisoners, SeneGambia News, http://www.senegambianews.com/viewarticle.aspx?smid=1333&aid=5566, Aug. 27, 2012.
[42] JollofNews, Executed Gambian Prisoner Was ‘Insane’, http://www.jollofnews.com/20120828executed-gambian-prisoner-was-insane.html, Aug. 28, 2012.
[43] Civil Society Associations Gambia, Statutory Murder in Gambia: Time for AU and ECOWAS to act, http://civilsociety-gambia.org/statutory-murder-in-gambia-time-for-au-and-ecowas-to-act/, last accessed Sep. 9, 2012.
[44] Yankuba Jambang, Breaking News: Gambia Govt Confirms Execution of 9 Prisoners, SeneGambia News, http://www.senegambianews.com/viewarticle.aspx?smid=1333&aid=5566, Aug. 27, 2012.
[45] Amnesty Intl., Reported Executions in Gambia a ‘Giant Leap Backwards’, http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/press-releases/reported-executions-in-gambia-a-giant-leap-backwards, Aug. 24, 2012.
[46] Yankuba Jambang, Breaking News: Gambia Govt Confirms Execution of 9 Prisoners, SeneGambia News, http://www.senegambianews.com/viewarticle.aspx?smid=1333&aid=5566, Aug. 27, 2012.
[47] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 255, Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[48] Gambia Childrens’ Act, art. 204, Cap 45:01, Vol.7, Laws of The Gambia 2009.
[49] Gambia Childrens’ Act, art. 218(1), Cap 45:01, Vol.7, Laws of The Gambia 2009.
[50] Gambia Childrens’ Act, art. 219(1) and (2), Cap 45:01, Vol.7, Laws of The Gambia 2009.
[51] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en , last accessed Feb. 26, 2011.
[52] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Covenant on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, Nov. 20, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Feb. 26, 2011.
[53] List of Countries which have Signed, Ratified, or Acceded to the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, African Union, http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/List/African%20Charter%20on%20the%20Rights%20and%20Welfare%20of%20the%20Child.pdf, Mar. 1, 2010.
[54] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 216, as amended through to 2002.
[55] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 28(2), Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01. Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 254(1), Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[56] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 254(2), Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[57] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 254(3), Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[58] List of Countries Which Have Signed, Ratified or Acceded to the Protocol on the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.africa-union.org/root/AU/Documents/Treaties/List/Protocol%20on%20the%20Rights%20of%20Women.pdf, Jul. 22, 2010.
[59] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 216, as amended through 2002.
[60] List of Countries Which Have Signed, Ratified or Acceded to the Protocol on the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.africa-union.org/root/AU/Documents/Treaties/List/Protocol%20on%20the%20Rights%20of%20Women.pdf, Jul. 22, 2010.
[61] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 192A(1) and (3), Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[62] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 192A(2), Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[63] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 255, Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[64] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 10, Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[65] JollofNews, Executed Gambian Prisoner Was ‘Insane’, http://www.jollofnews.com/20120828executed-gambian-prisoner-was-insane.html, Aug. 28, 2012.
[66] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 192A(1) and (3), Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[67] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 192A(2), Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.
[68] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 255, Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[69] Gambia Criminal Code, art. 10, Act No. 25 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 10:01.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

Mar. 22, 1979. [2]

Signed?

No. [3]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

Yes. [4]

Date of Accession

Jun. 9, 1988. [5]

Signed?

No. [6]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [7]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [8]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Yes. [9]

Date of Accession

Jun. 8, 1983. [10]

Signed?

Yes. [11]

Date of Signature

Feb. 11, 1983. [12]

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Yes. [13]

Date of Accession

May 25, 2005. [14]

Signed?

Yes. [15]

Date of Signature

Sep. 11, 2003. [16]

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Yes. [17]

Date of Accession

Dec. 14, 2000. [18]

Signed?

No. [19]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

2016 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [20]

Vote

Not Present. [21]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [22]

2014 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [23]

Vote

Abstained. [24]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [25]

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [26]

Vote

Not Present. [27]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [28]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [29]

Vote

In Favor. [30] Gambia's delegate indicated that she had intended to abstain, although Gambia mistakenly voted in favor of the resolution. [31]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [32]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [33]

Vote

Abstained. [34]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [35]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [36]

Vote

Abstained. [37]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [38]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en , last accessed Sep. 5, 2012.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en , last accessed Sep. 5, 2012.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en , last accessed Sep. 5, 2012.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en , last accessed Sep. 5, 2012.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en , last accessed Sep. 5, 2012.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en , last accessed Sep. 5, 2012.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en , last accessed Sep. 5, 2012.
[8] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en , last accessed Sep. 5, 2012.
[9] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Sep. 10, 2012.
[10] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Sep. 10, 2012.
[11] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Sep. 10, 2012.
[12] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/ratification, last accessed Sep. 10, 2012.
[13] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/women-protocol/ratification, last accessed Sep. 10, 2012.
[14] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/women-protocol/ratification, last accessed Sep. 10, 2012.
[15] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/women-protocol/ratification, last accessed Sep. 10, 2012.
[16] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/women-protocol/ratification, last accessed Sep. 10, 2012.
[17] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, last accessed Sep. 10, 2012.
[18] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, last accessed Sep. 10, 2012.
[19] African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ratification Table: African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, http://www.achpr.org/instruments/child/ratification, last accessed Sep. 10, 2012.
[20] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[21] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[22] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Note Verbale dated 7 September 2017, U.N. Doc. A/71/1047, Sep. 13, 2017.
[23] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 141, 144, U.N. Doc. A/69/488/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2014.
[24] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, 73rd Plenary Meeting, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/69/PV.73, Dec. 18, 2014.
[25] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Note Verbale dated 28 July 2015, U.N. Doc. A/69/993, Jul. 29, 2015.
[26] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[27] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[28] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[29] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, includng alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[30] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[31] Hands Off Cain, Vote on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty, http://www.handsoffcain.info/chisiamo/index.php?iddocumento=13317888, last accessed Mar. 29, 2011. It appears that the U.N. tabulated the vote as in favor--see the website tracking U.N. resolutions at http://www.un.org/en/ga/65/resolutions.shtml, last accessed Mar. 29, 2010.
[32] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[33] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[34] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[35] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[36] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[37] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[38] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

The Constitution of Gambia of 1997 provides that no person can be deprived of life intentionally except in execution of a sentence authorized by law and imposed by a court after a lawful conviction. [1] It further provides that no sentence of death can be imposed for any offense unless it involves violence or the administration of a toxic substance and results in death. [2] Finally, the Constitution calls for a review of the death penalty and consideration of its total abolition. [3]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

Article 216 suggests that the National Assembly must legislate in accordance with Gambia’s international human rights obligations. The constitution states that in pursuing “policies to protect the rights and freedoms of the disabled, the aged, children and other vulnerable members of society … to ensure that such persons are provided just and equitable social opportunities,” Gambia “shall be bound by the fundamental rights and freedoms in the Constitution and shall be guided by international human rights instruments to which The Gambia is a signatory and which recognise and apply particular categories of basic human rights to development processes.” [4]

Article 219 provides that Gambia “shall endeavour to ensure that in international relations it…fosters respect for international law, treaty obligations and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means; and …is guided by the principle and goals of international and regional organisations of which The Gambia is a signatory.” [5]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

On August 19-20, 2012, President Jammeh announced that Gambia would execute all its death row inmates by mid-September. A few days later, on August 23, nine prisoners were executed by firing squad, including three persons who were convicted of treason, and two Senegalese nationals, one of them a woman. [6] While Amnesty International and other rights organizations learned of the executions the next day, the Gambian government only confirmed the executions on August 27, insisting that the executions had taken place on August 26.

The August 23 executions were greeted by an international outcry. The country’s first executions in 31 years were quickly denounced by the United Nations, [7] the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, [8] the European Union, [9] neighboring Senegal, [10] and numerous human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. Gambia’s decision to resume executions after such a lengthy period of de facto abolition is almost unprecedented and diverges from the worldwide trend which has seen the number of abolitionist countries grow steadily over the past two decades. Prior to the August 23 executions, Gambia had previously executed only one person since its independence in 1965: in 1981, Mustapha Danso was executed for the murder of an army commander during a failed coup attempt. [11] Moreover in 1993 Gambia legally abolished the death penalty, but reinstated it in 1995 for murder and treason (after the current President, Yayeh Jammeh, seized power in a coup in 1994). [12]

In addition to the concerns raised by what Amnesty calls Gambia’s “giant leap backwards” regarding capital punishment, there are many indications that the recent executions were carried out in violation of Gambia’s international legal commitments, and possibly its own constitutional order. While the government claims on the international stage that only offenses resulting in death are punishable by death, [13] news reports indicate that, in practice, death sentences have been imposed on individuals convicted of conspiring against the President’s regime. [14] Application of the death penalty for crimes not resulting in death is an explicit textual violation of Gambia’s Constitution [15] and the “most serious crimes” standard enshrined in the ICCPR. The conditions under which the executions were carried out, moreover – in secret, and without warning to the inmates, their families or lawyers – also breach international law.

Three of those executed were former military officers who had been convicted of treason, an offense which is broadly worded in the Criminal Code. It is believed that capital punishmnent is used to deal with President Jammeh’s political opponents. It is estimated that 11 death row inmates are political prisoners, while around 8 others are suspected of having severe mental illness. [16] Amnesty International reported that in 2012, Gambia issued 13 death sentences, and the Court of Appeals denied the appeal of seven of the eight people sentenced to death in June 2010 “following a grossly unfair trial for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.” [17]

Gambia’s government has defended the executions against the chorus of international condemnation, with the presidency isssuing a statement that “the sentences that were handed out were in due compliance with the laws of the country.” [18]

The remaining 38 or 39 people on death row in the Gambia now face a risk of imminent executions. Since late August, security has been heightened around Mile Two prison where death-sentenced inmates are detained. The families of death row inmates have been unable to access the prison or communicate with death-sentenced prisoners. [19]

The recent executions caught everyone by surprise. In the past two years, the number of death sentences handed down in Gambia have increased. [20] However, the government delegation to the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review claimed in its early 2010 report that all death sentences had been commuted to life imprisonment. [21] In all three UN General Assembly votes on the resolution to implement a universal moratorium on executions, Gambia abstained rather than voting No. [22]

Moreover, Gambia’s constitution prohibits the imposition of capital punishment for offenses that do not lead to the death of a victim, the only constitution in Africa to do so. This is in accordance with Gambia’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides that the death penalty may only be imposed for the “most serious crimes”: crimes of intentional killing. Moreover, Gambia’s constitution explicitly states that its purpose is the full abolition of the death penalty, an issue which it invited Parliament to consider ten years after the Constitution’s enactment.

Although the ten-year review came and went in 2006 without any parliamentary action towards abolition, these constitutional restrictions led to the abolition of recent attempts to expand the use of capital punishment. Under the 2010 amendments, the death penalty was to apply to drug offenses, armed robbery, human trafficking and rape under certain conditions. While the capital status of the latter offenses is unclear from our research, the death penalty for drug offenses was abolished six months after it was enacted, without having ever been implemented.

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

No. Gambia carried out executions in 2012. [23]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

In two 1993 cases, Cham v. The State and Williams v. The State, the Court of Appeal overturned the convictions and death sentences of the appellants on the grounds that the trial judges failed to properly consider the defendants’ unchallenged evidence that they acted out of self-defense. [24]

In Momodou Jove v. Alhaji Dandi Njie, the Supreme Court of The Gambia ruled that courts must provide reasons when exercising discretion. In a recently delivered judicial training lecture, Chief Justice Akomaye Agim reiterated the importance of this principle in the sentencing context: “The exercise of any discretion must be founded on some reasons. It is only on the basis of such expressed reasons that the exercise of discretion can be assessed. An exercise of discretion not based on any reason cannot be judicious and therefore cannot be proper.” [25] The ruling should be understood in a context where sentencing procedure is left relatively unregulated by the Criminal Procedure Code and court practice tends towards summary proceedings. [26]

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

The Gambia Law Reports may be downloaded on the website of the Judiciary of the Gambia. The website currently makes available the law reports from 1960 to 1993 and from 1993 to 2002: http://www.gov.gm/judiciary/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6&Itemid=32. The website also makes available unreported judgments (http://www.gov.gm/judiciary/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=20&Itemid=33) and the Gambia Sharia Law Report (http://www.gov.gm/judiciary/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=32&Itemid=46).

The laws of Gambia are collected in the Laws of Gambia, which was most recently reviewed in 2009. The Judiciary of the Gambia website also provides access to some national legislation at: http://www.gov.gm/judiciary/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=17&Itemid=24.

What is the clemency process?

A Committee on the Exercise of the Prerogative of Mercy, consisting of the Attorney General and three other persons appointed by the President in consultation with the National Assembly, advises the President on clemency. The President, after consultation, may grant a pardon free or subject to lawful conditions or commute or stay execution of a sentence. [27]

In application of these constitutional provisions, the Criminal Procedure Code provides that following the issuance of a death sentence, the President is to receive the trial record together with the notes, recommendations and observations of the trial judge and the Minister of Justice, and the President is then to “make such orders as may be requisite.” [28] The Minister of Justice then sends the presidential order to the trial judge, who enters it into the record. [29] The orders which the President can issue are a death warrant, a commutation order or a pardon. [30] We assume that if a death warrant is issued, it is subject to the appeals process, but the legislative text does not make this explicit.

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

Juries are not used. [31]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

Subsidiary courts of the first class only (not of the second or third class) may try any death-eligible offense except treason. Treason must be tried by the High Court. [32] After issuing a death sentence, a court must inform the defendant of the period within which he or she must appeal. [33] The High Court has supervisory jurisdiction over all lower courts. Appeals to the High Court may be on matters of law and on matters of fact, and must be filed within 30 days. [34] Appeal lies as of right to the Court of Appeal against any decision of the High Court and by leave of the court against any decision of a Court Martial. [35] Appeals to the Court of Appeal are on matters of law (not including severity of sentence) or matters of mixed law and fact, [36] and must be filed within 10 days. [37] The Court of Appeal may refuse to review a judgment, even if it believes a point of appeal may be settled in favor of the appellant, if it considers that no “substantial miscarriage of justice” occurred. [38] The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal and settles matters of law for all courts. Appeals are as of right to the Supreme Court if the Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal against the sentence of death. [39]

A Special Criminal Court established by the Constitution apparently has been assigned expanded jurisdiction under Article 136. [40] While the Special Criminal Court was mandated by the constitution to judge “criminal offences relating to theft, misappropriation and other similar offences in which public funds and public property are affected,” [41] it has been known to hear cases of treason, which are death-eligible. [42] This court might be considered inferior to the High Court, but we are not certain which court would hear the immediate appeal of a sentence pronounced by the Special Criminal Court.

References

[1] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 18(1), as amended through to 2002.
[2] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 18(2), as amended through to 2002.
[3] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 18(2), as amended through to 2002.
[4] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 216(2) and (3), as amended through to 2002.
[5] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 219, as amended through to 2002.
[6] Kibaaro News, 9 Gambia Executions Confirmed, kibaaro.com/?p=2774, Aug. 24, 2012.
[7] UN News Service, Gambia: UN Human Rights Chief Urges Gambia to Impose Immediate Moratorium on Death Penalty, allafrica.com/stories/201208311318.html, Aug. 30, 2012.
[8] Fidelis Mac-Leva, Gambia: African Rights Commission Knocks Nation Over Executions, AllAfrica, http://allafrica.com/stories/201208300313.html, Aug. 30, 2012.
[9] Sebastian Moffett and Pap Saine, EU condemns Gambia executions, promises urgent response, Reuters, www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/26/us-gambia-executions-eu-idUSBRE87P04J20120826, Aug. 26, 2012.
[10] Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, Despite critics, Gambia plans dozens of executions, NPR, www.npr.org/2012/08/29/160166098/despite-critics-gambia-plans-dozens-of-executions, Aug. 29, 2012.
[11] Saikou Jammeh, Gambia: Death Penalty Alive and Well, http://allafrica.com/stories/201012150134.html, All Africa, Dec. 15, 2010.
[12] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: Gambia, paras. 7-8, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/75/GMB, Aug. 12, 2004. Death Penalty (Restoration) Act of 1995, sec. 2, Laws of Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 13, reversing Death Penalty (Abolition) Act of 1995.
[13] U.N.G.A., National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 15 (a) of the Annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1: Gambia, para. 12, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/7/GMB/1, Jan. 20, 2010.
[14] See, among many others, African Online News, Gambian “Coup Plotters” Sentenced to Death, http://www.afrol.com/articles/36521, Jul. 15, 2010.
[15] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 18, as amended through 2002.
[16] Simon Allison, Gambia: The mad rush of Gambia’s executioner-in-chief, The Daily Maverick, www.afrika.no/Detailed/22167.html, Aug. 30, 2012. Civil Society Associations Gambia, List of Death Row (Mile 2 Central Prisons) Inmates, Aug. 24, 2012.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Annual Report 2012: Gambia, http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/gambia/report-2012, last accessed Sep. 9, 2012.
[18] Sapa-AFP, Gambia defends execution of nine, IOL News, http://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/gambia-defends-execution-of-nine-1.1373394, Aug. 31, 2012.
[19] Amnesty Intl., The Gambia: The Gambian government must not carry out any further executions of death row prisoners, AFR 27/009/2012, Sep. 5, 2012.
[20] Amnesty Intl., Dozens of death row prisoners in Gambia risk imminent execution, http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/dozens-death-row-prisoners-gambia-risk-imminent-execution-2012-08-29, Aug. 29, 2012. Ian Johnston, ‘Crushing Political Dissent?’ Gambia to execute every prisoner on death row, http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/24/13456914-crushing-political-dissent-gambia-to-execute-every-prisoner-on-death-row?lite, NBC News, Aug. 24, 2012.
[21] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: Gambia, para. 8, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/75/GMB, Aug. 12, 2004.
[22] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010. Hands Off Cain, Vote on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty, http://www.handsoffcain.info/chisiamo/index.php?iddocumento=13317888, last accessed Mar. 29, 2011. It appears that the U.N. tabulated the vote as in favor--see the website tracking U.N. resolutions at http://www.un.org/en/ga/65/resolutions.shtml, last accessed Mar. 29, 2010. U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008. U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[23] Amnesty Intl., The Gambia: The Gambian government must not carry out any further executions of death row prisonersDeath Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Feb. 26, 2011, AFR 27/009/2012, Sep. 5, 2012..
[24] Cham v. The State, Criminal Appeal No. 14/92, Gambia Court of Appeal, May 28, 1993. Williams v. The State, Criminal Appeal No. 3/93, Gambia Court of Appeal, May 28, 1993.
[25] Momodou Jove v. Alhaji Dandi Njie (unreported decision of 26th May 2011 in SC. Civ. Appeal No.2/2009) , cited in Hon. Emmanuel Akomaye Agim, Chief Justice, The Principles and Practices of Sentencing in The Gambia, Judicial Lecture presented at the training session organized for the magistrates and CADI’s, Judiciary of The Gambia, p. 28, http://www.gov.gm/judiciary/images/Publication/the%20principles%20and%20practice%20of%20sentencing%20in%20the%20gambia%20agim.pdf, Apr. 17, 2012.
[26] Hon. Emmanuel Akomaye Agim, Chief Justice, The Principles and Practices of Sentencing in The Gambia, Judicial Lecture presented at the training session organized for the magistrates and CADI’s, Judiciary of The Gambia, p. 27, http://www.gov.gm/judiciary/images/Publication/the%20principles%20and%20practice%20of%20sentencing%20in%20the%20gambia%20agim.pdf, Apr. 17, 2012.
[27] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 82, as amended through to 2002.
[28] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 253(1)-(3), Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[29] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 253(4), Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[30] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 253(5), Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[31] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Gambia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186199.htm, May 24, 2012.
[32] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, arts. 4-5, Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[33] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 251, Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[34] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 271, Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[35] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, Chap. VIII, Part 2, as amended through 2002.
[36] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 284, Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[37] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, Chap. VIII, Part 2, as amended through 2002.
[38] Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 285, Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[39] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, Chap. VIII, Part 2, as amended through to 2002.
[40] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, arts. 134-136, as amended through to 2002.
[41] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, arts. 135, as amended through to 2002.
[42] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Gambia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186199.htm, May 24, 2012.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

Death-sentenced prisoners are held at Mile Two State Central Prison located near the capital city, Banjul. [1]

Description of Prison Conditions

Conditions for prisoners held under sentence of death are believed to be appalling, and serious failures have occurred at Mile Two prison where death-sentenced inmates are imprisoned. [2] In prisons generally, prison cells are overcrowded, damp, and poorly ventilated. Inmates complain of poor sanitation and food and occasionally sleep on the floor. Detainees are allowed to receive food from outside prior to conviction, but not afterwards. Medical facilities in prisons are poor, and lighting in some cells is poor. During the summer months temperatures are extremely high, and there are no ceiling fans or other measures to reduce heat. [3] Amnesty reports that “[t]he harsh conditions of detention in Mile 2 Central Prison – overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions and inadequate food – constituted cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” The U.S. Department of State’s 2009 Human Rights Report states that prisoners died at Mile Two as a result of poor food and inadequate medical care. Information in the Department’s report suggests the deaths were due to incidents involving adulterated meat and an inadequate medical response. [4] In August 2012, a local NGO reported another death at Mile Two as a result of “appalling conditions of detention and poor health care.” [5] In late October 2011, inmates in the security wing of Mile 2 Prison (which might include death row inmates) went on a hunger strike to protest overcrowding, poor hygienic conditions, poor nutrition and medical care, and restriction of access to visitors including lawyers. Pretrial detainees are sometimes held with convicted prisoners. [6]

On August 23, 2012, Gambia executed nine prisoners in one day without giving the inmates, their families or lawyers any advance warning that the executions would take place. President Jammeh announced that he planned to execute the remaining 38 prisoners on death row by mid-September. Security has been increased since executions resumed, and the families of those remaining on death row have been unable to access the prisons or communicate with the inmates, who are at risk of imminent execution. [7] The Maximum Security is on lock-down for 20 hours a day. [8]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

Yes. [9]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

According to Civil Society Associations Gambia, there are two Nigerians, two Malians, one Guinea-Bissau national, and one Senegalese national currently on death row. [10] Media articles also report that there is one Lebanese man [11] and one Guinean man on deaht row. The Guinean was sentenced to death for murder in 2007. [12] The Lebanese businessman, a resident in Gambia, was sentenced to death in 2010 on treason charges, and his appeal was dismissed in 2012. [13]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

As of September 2012, we think that there are no women on death row. [14] One woman Tabara Samba, a Senegalese national, was executed on August 23, 2012. [15]

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

We did not find reports during our research that Gambia has recently sentenced individuals to death for crimes committed while under the age of 18. In 2004, the Human Rights Committee expressed concern that Gambian law did not exclude juveniles from execution. [16] However, Gambian law currently excludes capital punishment for prisoners who were under the age of 18 at the time the offense was committed, so these concerns might well be outdated.

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

We did not find reports on the racial or ethnic composition on death row in Gambia.

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Article 24(3) of the Constitution provides that every person charged with a criminal offense “shall be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his or her defense” [17] and shall be allowed to defend himself with a legal representative of his choice. [18] Moreover, where a person is charged with a death-punishable offense, “that person shall be entitled to legal aid at the expense of the State.” [19]

The U.S. Department of State reports that Gambia extends the right to representation at the state’s expense to all indigents facing murder or manslaughter charges, but Amnesty International reports that the government does not inform some individuals of their legal rights. [20] The International Bar Association reports that the legal aid system functions for offenses carrying capital or life sentences. [21]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

Although there is constitutionally-guaranteed funding of representation for indigent prisoners facing capital charges, [22] we do not know whether this extends to the appeals process.

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

In 2006, the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Leandro Despouy, expressed concerns that individuals facing treason charges would not be adequately represented. They had been denied meetings with attorneys, a majority of defense lawyers had withdrawn from representation, and it was expected that obtaining adequate representation would be difficult due to the high profile, politically sensitive nature of the 2006 treason case. [23] In 2006, Amnesty documented a case where 15 people (including members of the military and civilians) were charged with treason, a capital offense, and were detained in solitary confinement at Mile 2 Prison without being granted access to lawyers. [24]

Even when the court orders that the defendant have unfettered access to counsel, the right to legal representation is not guaranteed. We have found reports of at least one case where the executive did not comply with the court’s order to allow a defendant to communicate to her attorney for seven days because it would have impeded continuing investigations against her. [25]

The availability of legal aid is jeopardized by a shortage of lawyers. There are only around 130 admitted lawyers in Gambia, and all save 40-50 practice in Banjul, the capital. [26]

The International Bar Association reported in 2006 that there was “extreme tension between the government and the private bar, in particular the GBA. This appears to stem from the fact that the government perceives lawyers who litigate against the government on behalf of political opponents or in politically sensitive cases, as being politically-motivated themselves. There is a clear inability to disassociate lawyers from the causes of their clients in this respect.” [27] The IBA also reported incidents of harrassment, threat and attacks on lawyers – some of themm near fatal. As a result, many lawyers are reluctant to accept politically sensitive cases, [28] which include capital treason cases.

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

Gambia’s criminal justice system is neither fair nor transparent when it comes to political opponents or those perceived to be opponents. In 2008, in a report entitled “Gambia Fears,” Amnesty International documented numerous instances of human rights violations (including unlawful detention, torture while in detention, unfair trials, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial executions) being perpetrated against by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), army and police against real and perceived opponents of the government on a routine basis. [29] In its 2012 annual report, Amnesty stated that unlawful detention, enforced disappearances and torture continue to be practiced. Human rights defenders, including lawyers and journalists, are among those unlawfully detained. [30] The U.S. State Department also reports that government agents carry out unlawful killings. [31] At least 30 political prisoners were held at the end of 2011. Some had been held incommunicado for long periods (up to 3 or 4 years) in the security wing of Mile 2 Prison. Most were former military personnel accused of involvement in plots to overthrow the government. [32]

Due process is not always respected. Individuals may be arrested without a warrant and detained without charge for periods exceeding the 72-hour period mandated by law. Detainees are also reportedly not properly informed of the charges against them. [33]

There are also serious concerns about the absence of judicial impartiality. Following a fact-finding mission which took place in June 2006, the International Bar Association concluded that “[the] judicial system in the Gambia suffers from neglect, under-investment, and a severe lack of resources and infrastructure, resulting from a general deprioritisation of its importance.” [34] Of particular concern was the impact of Gambia’s policy of hiring most of its judges from other African common law countries on fixed two-year contracts which the government may or may not choose to renew, a system under which there is no security of tenure. At the time of the report, only 3 judges in the country were Gambian (the Chief Justice, one Supreme Court judge and one of the 6 high court judges). [35] In at least one documented case, a foreign judge who had been pre-approved to have her contract renewed was not invited to stay after she delivered a dissenting judgment in favor of defendants accused of seditious libel. [36] In April 2010, High Court judge Moses Richards was dismissed without explanation amid reports he criticized the domination of the bench by Nigerian judges and magistrates. In December 2010 Richards, who had gone into private legal practice, was arrested, denied bail, and charged with sedition. In September 2011, he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with hard labor. Richards was later released after being granted a presidential pardon. [37] The International Bar Association has also expressed concern that the judges allowed to pronounce death sentences do not always have the appropriate qualifications. [38] Finally, the IBA noted that the remuneration of judges was a fraction of what lawyers earn in private practice and thus inadequate to attract suitably qualified persons and make judges less susceptible to corrupt practices. [39]

Moreover, the executive reportedly places pressure on the judiciary, for instance via members of the police or intelligence agency calling judges to discuss pending matters out of court, or veiled threats uttered by the President himself during a judicial appointment ceremony. [40]

The International Bar Association also reported that the executive frequently delays or ignores the less politically popular orders issued by the judiciary, or wait for orders from “above.” The report states that “There is widespread frustration both amongst members of the legal profession and the judiciary with this situation and at the failure to bring contempt proceedings to ensure compliance with court orders.” [41]

In its 2006 report, the International Bar Association also noted a severe lack of infrastructure and resources in the Gambian justice system, both in terms of personnel and materials, including a lack of court reporters, research facilities and continuting proffesional development. The report also deplored the lack of case reporters since 2001, but this problem seems to have been in some measure addressed since case law reporters are currently available until 2008.

Finally, there are some concerns about the courts’ sentencing practices. In a recently delivered lecture, Chief Justice Akomaye Agim deplored the brevity of post-conviction hearings allowing for the consideration of mitigating factors prior to sentencing. He noted: “There is nothing in the Criminal Procedure Code or any other statute or law prescribing any particular procedure to be followed by the Courts during sentencing in a criminal trial. The prevalent practice of the Courts is that upon convicting of an accused, the court will ask the convict or the counsel if he or she has something to say to mitigate the punishment to follow. This is usually called allocutus or plea for mercy. Following the allocutus, the court proceed [sic] to pronounce the sentence. Few courts ask the prosecution for any previous criminal record of the convict before sentence. There is scarcely any post conviction hearing beyond the allocutus. Very little time is spent on this very sensitive stage of the criminal process. More attention is paid to the investigative and trial stage and little or no attention is paid to the sentencing stage.” [42]

The judicial system recognizes traditional and sharia law in matters of family law (including marriage, divorce, and inheritance). Traditional and sharia law do not apply to criminal matters. [43]

References

[1] Amnesty Intl., Dozens of death row prisoners in Gambia risk imminent execution, http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/dozens-death-row-prisoners-gambia-risk-imminent-execution-2012-08-29, Aug. 29, 2012.
[2] Amnesty Intl., Dozens of death row prisoners in Gambia risk imminent execution, http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/dozens-death-row-prisoners-gambia-risk-imminent-execution-2012-08-29, Aug. 29, 2012.
[3] U.S. Department of State, 2011 Human Rights Reports: The Gambia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186199.htm, May 24, 2012.
[4] Civil Society Associations Gambia, List of Death Row (Mile 2 Central Prisons) Inmates, Aug. 24, 2012.
[5] Civil Society Associations Gambia, Another Mile Two Inmate Dies, Prison Conditions Worsen: Press Release, http://civilsociety-gambia.org/gambia-another-mile-two-inmate-dies-prison-conditions-worsen, Aug. 27, 2012.
[6] U.S. Department of State, 2011 Human Rights Reports: The Gambia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186199.htm, May 24, 2012.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Dozens of death row prisoners in Gambia risk imminent execution, http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/dozens-death-row-prisoners-gambia-risk-imminent-execution-2012-08-29, Aug. 29, 2012.
[8] Civil Society Associations Gambia, Another Mile Two Inmate Dies, Prison Conditions Worsen: Press Release, http://civilsociety-gambia.org/gambia-another-mile-two-inmate-dies-prison-conditions-worsen, Aug. 27, 2012.
[9] Civil Society Associations Gambia, List of Death Row (Mile 2 Central Prisons) Inmates, Aug. 24, 2012. See also Vanguard, Nigeria: Stop Execution of Nigerians on Gambia’s Death Row, SERAP Tells Jonathan, AllAfrica, http://allafrica.com/stories/201208270902.html, Aug. 27, 2012. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, Despite critics, Gambia plans dozens of executions, NPR, www.npr.org/2012/08/29/160166098/despite-critics-gambia-plans-dozens-of-executions, Aug. 29, 2012. Ian Johnston, ‘Crushing Political Dissent?’ Gambia to execute every prisoner on death row, http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/24/13456914-crushing-political-dissent-gambia-to-execute-every-prisoner-on-death-row?lite, NBC News, Aug. 24, 2012.
[10] Civil Society Associations Gambia, List of Death Row (Mile 2 Central Prisons) Inmates, Aug. 24, 2012. See also Vanguard, Nigeria: Stop Execution of Nigerians on Gambia’s Death Row, SERAP Tells Jonathan, AllAfrica, http://allafrica.com/stories/201208270902.html, Aug. 27, 2012. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, Despite critics, Gambia plans dozens of executions, NPR, www.npr.org/2012/08/29/160166098/despite-critics-gambia-plans-dozens-of-executions, Aug. 29, 2012. Ian Johnston, ‘Crushing Political Dissent?’ Gambia to execute every prisoner on death row, http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/24/13456914-crushing-political-dissent-gambia-to-execute-every-prisoner-on-death-row?lite, NBC News, Aug. 24, 2012.
[11] Sainey M.K. Marenah, Appeal court dismisses Yusuf Ezzideen appeal case, The Point, http://thepoint.gm/africa/gambia/article/appeal-court-dismisses-yusuf-ezzideen-appeal-case, May 2, 2012.
[12] Reuters, Gambia Sentences Second Person to Death in a Week, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2007/10/03/idUKL0363069820071003, Oct. 3, 2010.
[13] Sainey M.K. Marenah, Appeal court dismisses Yusuf Ezzideen appeal case, The Point, http://thepoint.gm/africa/gambia/article/appeal-court-dismisses-yusuf-ezzideen-appeal-case, May 2, 2012.
[14] Civil Society Associations Gambia, List of Death Row (Mile 2 Central Prisons) Inmates, Aug. 24, 2012.
[15] Bubacarr Sowe, Gambia’s executed inmates named, http://gambiadispatch.com/2012/08/24/gambias-executed-inmates-named, The Gambia Dispatch, Aug. 24, 2012.
[16] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: Gambia, para. 8, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/75/GMB, Aug. 12, 2004.
[17] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 24(3)(c), as amended through to 2002.
[18] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 24(3)(d), as amended through to 2002. See also Gambia Criminal Procedure Code, art. 159, Act No. 26 of 1933, as amended through to 2009, Laws of The Gambia (2009), Vol. 3, Ch. 11:01.
[19] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 24(3)(d), as amended through to 2002.
[20] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Gambia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135955.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[21] Intl. Bar Association Human Rights Institute, Under Pressure: a report on the rule of law in the Gambia, p. 47, http://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/HRI_Publications/Country_reports.aspx#2005, Aug. 2006.
[22] The Constitution of the Republic of Gambia of 1997, art. 24(3)(d), as amended through to 2002.
[23] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Leandro Despouy, paras. 148-150, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/4/25/Add.1, Apr. 5, 2007.
[24] Amensty Intl., Gambia: Fear Rules, p. 27, AFR 27/003/2008, Nov. 11, 2008.
[25] Intl. Bar Association Human Rights Institute, Under Pressure: a report on the rule of law in the Gambia, pp. 5-6, http://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/HRI_Publications/Country_reports.aspx#2005, Aug. 2006.
[26] Gambia Information Site, Gambia Bar Association, http://www.accessgambia.com/extra/gambia-bar-association.html, last accessed Aug. 31, 2012.
[27] Intl. Bar Association Human Rights Institute, Under Pressure: a report on the rule of law in the Gambia, p. 44, http://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/HRI_Publications/Country_reports.aspx#2005, Aug. 2006.
[28] Intl. Bar Association Human Rights Institute, Under Pressure: a report on the rule of law in the Gambia, pp. 45-46, http://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/HRI_Publications/Country_reports.aspx#2005, Aug. 2006.
[29] Amnesty Intl., Gambia: Fear Rules, AFR27/003/2008, Nov. 11, 2008.
[30] Amnesty Intl., Annual Report 2012: Gambia, http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/gambia/report-2012, last accessed Sep. 9, 2021.
[31] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Gambia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186199.htm, May 24, 2012.
[32] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Gambia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186199.htm, May 24, 2012.
[33] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Gambia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186199.htm, May 24, 2012.
[34] Intl. Bar Association Human Rights Institute, Under Pressure: a report on the rule of law in the Gambia, p. 34, http://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/HRI_Publications/Country_reports.aspx#2005, Aug. 2006.
[35] Intl. Bar Association Human Rights Institute, Under Pressure: a report on the rule of law in the Gambia, p. 23, http://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/HRI_Publications/Country_reports.aspx#2005, Aug. 2006.
[36] Intl. Bar Association Human Rights Institute, Under Pressure: a report on the rule of law in the Gambia, pp. 29-30, http://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/HRI_Publications/Country_reports.aspx#2005, Aug. 2006.
[37] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Gambia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186199.htm, May 24, 2012.
[38] Intl. Bar Association Human Rights Institute, Under Pressure: a report on the rule of law in the Gambia, http://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/HRI_Publications/Country_reports.aspx#2005, Aug. 2006.
[39] Intl. Bar Association Human Rights Institute, Under Pressure: a report on the rule of law in the Gambia, pp. 31-32, http://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/HRI_Publications/Country_reports.aspx#2005, Aug. 2006.
[40] Intl. Bar Association Human Rights Institute, Under Pressure: a report on the rule of law in the Gambia, p. 39, http://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/HRI_Publications/Country_reports.aspx#2005, Aug. 2006.
[41] Intl. Bar Association Human Rights Institute, Under Pressure: a report on the rule of law in the Gambia, pp. 33-34, http://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/HRI_Publications/Country_reports.aspx#2005, Aug. 2006.
[42] Hon. Emmanuel Akomaye Agim, Chief Justice, The Principles and Practices of Sentencing in The Gambia, Judicial Lecture presented at the training session organized for the magistrates and CADI’s, Judiciary of The Gambia, p. 27, http://www.gov.gm/judiciary/images/Publication/the%20principles%20and%20practice%20of%20sentencing%20in%20the%20gambia%20agim.pdf, Apr. 17, 2012.
[43] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Gambia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186199.htm, May 24, 2012.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

In 2004, the Human Rights Committee expressed concern that Gambia’s laws did not clearly provide that individuals cannot be executed for crimes committed while under the age of 18. The Committee also expressed concern that the death penalty in Gambia was not clearly restricted to the most serious crimes in accordance with Article 6(2) of the ICCPR. The Committee requested that Gambia provide a detailed description of which crimes are punishable by death, the number of death sentences handed down since 1995, and the number of people on death row. [1] Gambia’s last report to the Human Rights Committee has been due since 1985. [2]

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

Members of the Human Rights Council recommended in 2010 that Gambia not carry out public executions, institute a moratorium on executions, implement the constitutionally required review of the death penalty, abolish the death penalty, and sign and ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. [3] In response to these recommendations, Gambia stated in June 2010 that there had already been a moratorium on the death penalty since 2005, that all prisoners sentenced to death were serving life sentences and that none had been executed. Gambia added that it did not intend to abolish the death penalty any time soon, and that the death penalty was reserved for “very serious crimes only, with adequate guarantees for the application of due process.” [4]

References

[1] U.N. CCPR, Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: Gambia, para. 8, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/75/GMB, Aug. 12, 2004.
[2] OHCHR, Reporting Status by Country, http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/NewhvVAllSPRByCountry?OpenView&Start=1&Count=250&Expand=64.1#64.1, last accessed Sep. 5, 2012.
[3] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Draft Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Gambia, para. 99(32-35), U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/7/L.5, Mar. 2, 2010.
[4] U.N. Human Rights Council, Report of the Human Rights Council on its fourteenth session, para. 607, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/14/L.10, Jun. 18, 2010.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

None.

Helpful Reports and Publications

Hon. Emmanuel Akomaye Agim, Chief Justice, The Principles and Practices of Sentencing in The Gambia, Judicial Lecture presented at the training session organized for the magistrates and CADI’s, Judiciary of The Gambia, http://www.gov.gm/judiciary/images/Publication/the%20principles%20and%20practice%20of%20sentencing%20in%20the%20gambia%20agim.pdf, Apr. 17, 2012.

Amnesty International, Gambia: Fear Rules, AFR 27/003/2008, Nov. 11, 2008.

Intl. Bar Association Human Rights Institute, Under Pressure: a report on the rule of law in the Gambia, http://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/HRI_Publications/Country_reports.aspx#2005, Aug. 2006.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.

Search Tips   |    Research Methodology   |    Glossary   |    Search