Jun 8, 2011, 3:53 PM
The recent execution of nine death row inmates in the country continues to receive condemnation in Africa and across the world, the latest coming from the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), a human rights body based in Abuja, Nigeria.
In a statement issued yesterday, the CDD said it condemns the executions, describing them as a flagrant disregard of the rule of law.
“Section 18 of the 1997 constitution of The Gambia provides that the death sentence shall not be imposed for any offence unless the sentence is prescribed by law and the offence involves violence, or the administration of any toxic substance, resulting in the death of another person; but with a caveat that the same law shall be reviewed ten years after its coming into force,” it said in its statement.
According to the CDD, fifteen years into the passage of this law, same has not been reviewed therefore making it inchoate.
This execution, it said, also violates the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the inviolable rights to life and dignity of human person as encapsulated in its Article 4 and 5 of the Charter.
“It is obvious that The Gambia has violated both National and International laws on these executions. The Centre for Democracy and Development opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, because it is unique in its cruelty and finality, and is plagued with arbitrariness, prejudice, and error,” it said.
The CDD went on to implore the Gambian authorities to immediately halt all scheduled executions and to overhaul all its extant abusive penal laws.
“We also call on the African Union and ECOWAS to urgently act to hold the government of Gambia accountable for the total disregard of its National laws and its obligation under the African Charter to refrain from the use of the death penalty.”
CDD calls on The Gambia and other African states that still impose the death penalty to abolish it, and follow the trend in African Union states that have abolished the death penalty.
The CDD further called on the ECOWAS Commission to as a matter of urgency prevail on The Gambia to stop the executions immediately, as it sends wrong signals to other ECOWAS member states and encourages fragrant abuse of human rights.
“CDD wishes to express its compassion to all the people affected. We also reiterate our readiness to work together with all human rights groups and organizations in the West African region and globally to uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of all Gambians and West African nationals,” the statement added, while calling on all stakeholders to wade in to stop further executions in The Gambia.