Sign the Petition to The President of The Gambia

This petition closed over 1 year ago

The Gambia more likely favorable to the abolitionist ideology

In fact, the abolitionist past of The Gambia, its current constitution as well as the positions of The Gambia in international law during the past twenty years are among other elements critical issues to look at closely in a view to mitigate or even establish that The Gambia is an abolitionist state or at least is currently not clear about what position to have on the death penalty; therefore, not prepared to carry out executions in these state of affairs.

History informs that The Gambia has applied the death penalty from its independence in 1965 to 1981 when Dawda Jawara former president abolished the capital punishment. The death sentence was then reinstatement in 1995 with the arrival to power of Jammeh who overthrown Jawara.

The reinstatement was subsequently done formally in the 1997 constitution of The Gambia which provides for the death penalty at its section 18 with subsection 3 stating as follow "The National Assembly shall within ten years from the date of the coming into force of this Constitution review the desirability or otherwise of the total abolition of the death penalty in The Gambia".

The point is that these provisions clearly inform on the idea that the intention of the constitution, the intention of Gambians expressed in this constitution was not definitively established on keeping forever the death penalty in their legal framework; that is why the constitution states that after a period of ten years of existence, the people of The Gambia through its representatives at the national assembly will have to question the desirability or not of the death penalty.

It is to note that this has not been done in 2007 when the constitution turned ten and one can assert without doubt that The Gambia does not have a position on the death penalty if it is to stick with the constitution because the validity of the death penalty provided in the constitution has expired.

Consequently, no death sentence should have been pronounced or carried since 2007 pending the answer of the national assembly on the desirability of the death sentence. So, in such circumstances, it suffices not that the president decides to implement death sentence provided in the constitution for it to be legal because this is a partial reading of the constitution and there comes the inoperativeness of the argument of The Gambia purporting that the country is just applying the constitution and its laws by carrying the death sentence.

As regards to Gambia's position in international law these last decades, it appears that the country is closer to the abolitionist ideology than the retentionist one.
For instance, while in 2007 The Gambia voted against the United Nations General Assembly's first Resolution (62/149) relative to a Moratorium on the use of the death penalty, it abstained in 2008 at the adoption of Resolution 63/168 and in 2010 voted[1] for Resolution 65/206 all relative to a Moratorium on the use of the death penalty. In the same vein, let recall that The Gambia has ratified the Rome Statute since 28 June 2002 and the judicial body established by the statute to prosecute and punish the most horrible crimes on earth does not provide for death sentence for those culprit of these crimes.
Moreover, The Gambia declared proudly during its universal periodic review that though it has the death penalty in its statue books, it does not actually implement the death sentence.
All these cannot be hidden or ignored even if since the seizure of power by Jammeh the country ranks among states with poorest human rights records; yet, a country leadership's reluctance to human rights could impact on the human rights records of that country but cannot destroy the fact that the people of that country are profoundly rooted in human rights promotion and defence.

Actually, the people of The Gambia should be questioned as whether to implement the death sentence or not before any irreversible action is taken!

Bruno Menzan


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