Gambian president Yahya Jammeh has promised this week to execute every death row prisoner in the country by mid-September, prompting demands from the EU and Amnesty International to immediately halt all planned executions.
Jammeh said in his statement, according to The Huffington Post, that:
“All those guilty of serious crimes and are condemned will face the full force of the law. By the middle of next month, all the death sentences would have been carried out to the letter. There is no way my government will allow 99% of the population to be held to ransom by criminals.”
Reports have said that nine people have already have been executed, an effective end to an almost 30-year hiatus on executions in the West African nation.
Along with the EU, Amnesty International immediately condemned Jammeh’s plan, with Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Africa director, saying that:
“President Jammeh’s comments are deeply troubling and will undoubtedly cause severe anguish to those on death row and their families. Any attempt to carry out this threat would be both deeply shocking and a major setback for human rights in Gambia.”
The Chicago Tribune reports that the EU foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, stated of Yahya Jammeh’s decision that:
“I strongly condemn the executions which have reportedly taken place on Thursday 23 August 2012, following President Jammeh’s stated intention to carry out all death penalties before mid-September. I demand the immediate halt of the executions.”
The European Union opposes the death penalty worldwide and issues statements often that ask countries to halt executions. The language used after the Gambian President’s order on Sunday was much stronger than usual, however, prompting questions that the European Union may be considering actions against the West African country, which is supposed to receive 65.4 million euros under a European Development Fund program.
Do you think that the Gambian president made the right decision in ordering the execution of all death row inmates?