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Gambia: Seven Death Sentences Upheld

(Oct. 23, 2012) On October 19, 2012, the Gambia Supreme Court upheld the treason convictions of seven men, including the former Chief of Defense Staff, Lieutenant General Lang Tombong Tamba. The defendants originally were convicted in 2010 and given death sentences. (Jaimie Cremeans, AI: Gambia Convicts at Risk of Execution After Supreme Court Decision, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (Oct. 20, 2012).)

Amnesty International (AI) has issued a statement calling on the Gambian government to allow the men to make maximum use of the appeals process. (Press Release, Amnesty International, Seven Men at Imminent Risk of Execution in The Gambia (Oct. 19, 2012).) The statement goes on to point out that under Gambia’s Constitution, the death sentence is reserved for offenses that result in another person’s death. (Id.; Constitution of the Republic of Gambia, 1997, as amended in 2001, art. 18(2), UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA HUMAN RIGHTS LIBRARY.)

AI’s West Africa Program Director, Lucy Freeman, argued that Gambia “must not carry out any executions, and commute as a matter of urgency the death sentences of the seven men – and all death row inmates. They must also uphold the moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.” (Press Release, supra.) Gambia instituted a temporary, conditional halt on capital punishment in September 2012. (Constance Johnson, Gambia: Death Penalty Impositions Temporarily Halted, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Sept. 18, 2012).)