23 prisoners on death row in Gambia – report

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By Omar Bah

A new report presented by the Gambia government to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at its 64th session in Egypt has said that The Gambia currently has 23 prisoners on death row.
Presenting the first human rights report for over 25 years on behalf of the Gambia government, Justice Minister, Abubacarr Tambadou said out of the 23 death row inmates, 21 were convicted for murder; one for unlawfully causing death and one for manslaughter.

“It is worth noting that despite the fact that the death penalty remains in the statute books since 1995, the only executions took place in 2012 when nine death row prisoners were executed. Since then, the moratorium which existed prior to 2012 has been restored. In 2017, the President announced a moratorium and signed the second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has been signed and ratified,” the report added.

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Mental health
Meanwhile, according to the report, Gambians who suffer from mental illness “should enjoy full human rights, including the right to appropriate health care, education, shelter and employment, and the freedom from discrimination and abuse.”
The report said: “Communities in The Gambia are faced with numerous mental, neurological and psychosocial disorders that undermined development. Based on the prevalence rate from the World Mental Health Survey in 2004, it is estimated that approximately 27000 people in The Gambia (3% of the population aged 15 years and more) are suffering from severe mental disorders and a further 9100 (10% of the population aged 15 years and more) are suffering from moderate to mild mental disorders.
“This means that at least 118,000 people in The Gambia (13% of the adult population) are likely to be affected by mental disorders which require varying degrees of treatment and care,” the report asserted.

In reaction to the report, the Commissioners of the African Commission unanimously expressed satisfaction with The Gambia’s report, in both its content and conformity with the Commission’s guidelines. They also applauded the new leadership of The Gambia for the courage displayed in confronting the country’s human rights challenges and putting in place mechanisms to deal with the past and laying a solid foundation for its human rights architecture.
The Commissioners also raised a number of issues and questions which the delegation was expected to respond to on last Friday.

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