Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has pardoned at least 25 prisoners, officials say, in the spirit of the coming of the holy month of Ramadan in the majority Muslim nation.
Tens of people waited outside to see their loved ones outside the tall gates of the Mile 2 Prison and at an island detention facility in Jangjanbureh in northcentral Gambia.
For the next 30 days, Muslims in the country will be fasting from dawn to dust in observance of one of the pillars of Islam. It is seen as a period of forgiveness and reconciliation.
President Barrow has released at least 297 prisoners, so far, since taking over power from former leader, Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh suffered defeat in Barrow’s hands in December and fled the country to Equatorial Guinea.
At least 174 prisoners were pardoned, followed by some 75 others in February and March marking the country’s independence and due to inhumane prison conditions.
Gambia’s prisons were also emptied of tens of political detainees, who were held by Jammeh’s government, most of them for taking part in protests, including his party leader and now Foreign Minister Ousainou Darboe.
Human rights campaigners have decried the conditions in the prisons and a video footage of the main detention center, Mile 2, shown on national television sparked an outcry.
Gambian prisoners reported to the new authorities that they were subjected to torture and ill-treatment by their jailers during Jammeh’s regime, allegations strongly condemned by the Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty and Attorney General Aboubacarr Baa Tambadou.