Gambia takes first step to ending death penalty

Gambia takes first step to ending death penalty

Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has taken a different path from ex-autocratic ruler Yahya Jammeh, issuing a moratorium on the death penalty and pledging to have it abolished.

Barrow, who defeated Jammeh in the country contentious December winter election vowed to restore the West African nation’s battered human rights standing.

Mr. Barrow, a soft-spoken and humble leader renewed his promise to rid the country’s criminal law of capital punishment during the parade marking Gambia’s 53 years of independence from British rule.

“I will use this opportunity to declare a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in The Gambia, as the first step towards abolition,” said Mr. Barrow

“We have won the war against dictatorship, which is the easy part. Maintaining the peace for our democracy to thrive will be our utmost challenge.”

Barrow has signed at least two UN protocols seeking to end the use of the death penalty during his first appearance at the United Nations General Assembly Summit in New York.

The death penalty was last used by former President Jammeh in August 2012, when nine inmates were executed by firing squad in a secret location.

Jammeh vowed to expand the list of capital crimes in response to what he said was a rising crime rate, sparking an international outcry against his action.

Jammeh, a notorious human rights abuser is set to be investigated by Gambian authorities for alleged violations. Victims of his regime have launched an international campaign to have him extradited to The Gambia to face trial.

(Reporting and Writing by Assan Sallah; Editing and Additional Writing by Sam Phatey)

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