Gambia’s ruling UDP party says it will repeal the death penalty, a law that has not been reviewed in the West African nation for nearly two decades and used by the former autocratic ruler, Yahya Jammeh to instill fear in citizens.
The UDP will be putting up a bill to propose the repealing of the death penalty from the Gambian constitution, which activists say was tailored to help Jammeh the country with absolute power.
Gambia’s Attorney General and Justice Minister, Aboubacarr Tambadou said repealing the death penalty is part of the many constitutional reforms the Barrow administration seeks to implement as the small nation transitions into democracy.
“We feel that the laws must be obeyed and that no one has the right to take the life of another person. But the question is: is death penalty a deterrent to crimes. It is not. So we will advocate repealing the death penalty,” said UDP leader Ousainou Darboe.
The UDP won 31 of the 53 available seats in the country’s National Assembly.
The vote was the first time Gambians had gone to the polls since Jammeh stepped down in January after 22 years as head of state.
Jammeh caused an international outcry in August 2012 when nine death row prisoners, including foreign nationals, were summarily executed without due process.
The 2012 execution of the nine prisoners were the first after more than a quarter of a century without an execution. Jammeh reintroduced the death penalty in 1994 when he came to power in a coup.
Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow, who defeated Jammeh in the December polls with the backing of a coalition government has promised several constitutional and legal reforms.
President Barrow was hoping for a majority to be able to bring in political and security reforms and has appointed five more people, including the Speaker of the House to the parliament.
He resigned from the UDP to lead the unity government and has the backing of the UDP to pass needed critical reforms and reverse controversial decisions that were made by Jammeh.