By Fatou Saho
As Amnesty International continues fight against the death penalty, succeeding in about 146 countries around the globe, the body on Saturday joined other stakeholders to urge The Gambia government to follow suit.
The call came on the occasion of the international day against the death penalty observed on 10 October.
During the ceremony, speaker after speaker raised the issue.
Madi Ceesay, the chairperson for the National Assembly standing committee on human rights and constitutional matters while commending the Gambia government for signing the moratorium on the death penalty, urged it to repeal the law.
“It is important to know that a death penalty can result in an irreversible error because if one is later found not to be guilty by new evidence in the future, it would have been too late to correct that error. So, signing the moratorium is not enough because it is still in our law books and the possibility of applying it is still there. We saw it in 2012 when all of a sudden, we lost 12 inmates to the death penalty. That is possible because the law is still there. So, the safest thing is for the government to completely eradicate this law,” Hon Ceesay said.
Muhammed Hydara, the president of Amnesty International in the KM region, said currently at least 16 people are on death row in The Gambia.
He said engagement will continue with all stakeholders to continue the campaign for the abolition of the death penalty in The Gambia, arguing that the campaign made great success in other parts of the world.
“The Gambia is a democratic and secular state and as such, the death penalty has no place in the country and it should be repealed immediately,” he argued.
Mansur Joof, speaking on behalf of the executive director of the NHRC, said death penalty is not an effective way of fighting crime because its application does not make society any safer. He said even though The Gambia has a moratorium on it in place, “we have seen our courts continuously imposing death penalty on people that are convicted of offences such as murder”.
He called on the government to repeal the death penalty restoration act as recommended by the TRRC and also enact criminal offences bill into law in order to eradicate the death penalty in The Gambia.