Gambian President, Adama Barrow announced a suspension of the death penalty on Sunday, in a clean break with the former regime of Yahya Jammeh. He hopes that more African states will follow its example.
The death penalty was abolished in The Gambia when former President Sir Dawda Jawara was in power but was then reinstated in 1995 shortly after former President Yahya Jammeh seized power in a military coup.
“I will use this opportunity to declare a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in The Gambia, as a first step towards abolition,” Mr. Barrow said in his statement to mark The Gambia’s 53rd independence anniversary celebrations.
Mr. Barrow further said “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.”
He added that “mistakes will be made, but we will correct them as we work towards perfecting the New Gambia.”
Amnesty International reported last year that at least 1,032 people were executed in 23 countries using the death penalty. There has been a huge decrease in the number of executions carried out in the Sub-Saharan region, reported by amnesty.
The number of recorded executions went down by about 49%, with 22 executions recorded in 2016 compared to 43 in the previous year.
Since taking office, Mr. Barrow has been trying to repair the damages left by the former government. Damages of which include The Gambia’s reputations, human rights violations and international relations to the outside world.
In this attempt, The Gambia has now officially rejoined the commonwealth nations early this month, which the former president Yahya Jammeh withdrew from in 2013 calling it a “Neo-Colonial Institution”.