Gambia’s law enforcement chief Mai Ahmad Fatty said the West African nation that was once plagued with human rights abuses has no political prisoners.
Fatty was addressing a session of the parliament on Friday when MP Ousman Sillah (PDOIS – Banjul North) expressed concerns about the conditions in state prisons and political detention.
“We do not have any political prisoners in The Gambia,” said Fatty, who emphasized the new government is very keen on human rights and freedoms.
Gambia’s human rights record has been facing wide national and international criticism during the past two decades.
Ex-President Yahya Jammeh’s regime used national security threats to crush dissent among opposition politicians and activists.
Jammeh led a crackdown on opposition leaders, journalists, as well as rights activists, who have often found themselves behind bars or facing court cases.
Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow released at least 274 prisoners since coming to power in January, including “all political prisoners.”
At least 34 political prisoners that remain missing are feared killed by Jammeh and his henchmen are helping unearth their unmarked graves.
Gambian authorities can 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 said.
President Barrow’s government have so far sent clear signals that the era of illegal detentions, torture and a prison system built to instill fear in the population is over.