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High Court judge urges parliament to review death penalty

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By Bruce Asemota

Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the High Court in Banjul has called on the National Assembly to review Section 18 (2) of the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia which permits the imposition and execution of the death penalty.
Justice Jaiteh made this declaration while delivering judgment in a murder trial involving the state against one Foday Jatta, who was convicted of killing one Yusupha Tabally and sentenced to death on Monday.
Before passing sentence, the judge cited Section 18(2) of the Constitution and stated that upon assumption of office, President Adama Barrow in 2018 placed a moratorium on the death penalty in honour of the Gambia commitments under the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.
He said Section 18(3) of the 1997 Constitution provides that the National Assembly shall within ten years from the date of coming into force of the 1997 Constitution review the desirability or otherwise of the total abolition of the death penalty in The Gambia.
He said the time has elapsed but the said provision has not been reviewed by the National Assembly and as such his hands were tied and he did not have any discretion to impose a lesser sentence than the death penalty on Foday Jatta pursuant to Section 250 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Cap 11.01, volume 3, of the Laws of The Gambia.

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