Gambian authorities must make a decisive break from the country’s brutal past by repealing repressive laws, reforming the security services and ensuring accountability for past serious violations of human rights, Amnesty International says.
Gambia’s President Adama Barrow is marking his 100th day in office since assuming power from exiled autocratic ruler, Yahya Jammeh, whose refusal to cede power nearly slipped the country into a civil war.
Barrow has been applauded by rights groups for releasing dozens of prisoners from a jail that is described as one of the world’s most inhumane detention facility and overturned Jammeh’s controversial decision to withdraw the Gambia from the International Criminal Court.
During a meeting with Amnesty officials, President Barrow promised that there would be “zero tolerance” for human rights violations under his government.
“President Barrow’s first 100 days have included some momentous steps forward for human rights in Gambia, but there remains a huge amount to do in order to make a decisive break with the country’s brutal past,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Regional Director.
100 days into President Barrow’s rule, Amnesty International presents a human rights agenda for the country
Commitment to International Criminal Court and release of political prisoners welcomed as major progress
Amnesty calls for repeal of repressive laws, reform of security forces, accountability for past human rights violations and abuses and abolition of the death penalty
Gambian authorities have arrested nearly two dozen security officers accused of carrying out torture and extrajudicial executions for Jammeh.
Nine former intelligence officers, including the country’s demoralized spy chief, Yankuba Badjie have been charged for the torture and murder of an opposition activist, Solo Sandeng, who led an anti-government protest last year.
Amnesty says draconian laws, unaccountable security forces and a weak justice system provided the machinery of repression during Yahya Jammeh’s rule.
A truth and reconciliation commission is to start hearing from victims and their families in September. Gambia’s Justice Department says it will be probing to ‘get the facts together’ regarding possible crimes committed by Jammeh.