Aug 13, 2008, 5:19 AM
Delegates from the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom on one hand and the Gambian minister for presidential affairs and secretary general and head of the civil service, the minister of justice and attorney general, the minister of the interior and minister of foreign affairs on the other hand yesterday held talks in Banjul.
The meeting, according to news monitored on GRTS, discussed the recent executions carried out by the Gambia government in which nine convicts on death row were executed.
The news report stated that the delegates speaking on behalf of their various governments expressed, among other things, the need for greater transparency from the government of The Gambia on the executions, and asked for a halt to the remaining ones.
The attorney general and minister of justice, Lamin Jobarteh, in response reminded delegates that The Gambia like most other countries carries the death penalty for capital offences.
However, he continued, the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia provides convicts with the right of appeal to the highest courts, as in the case of the recent death row inmates in question.
“All avenues of appeal were exhausted prior to their execution, and the remaining death row inmates also have the right of appeal in the next sitting of the court of appeal later this year.”
The minister of presidential affairs, Dr Njogu Bah, GRTS reported, also reminded the delegates that they should appreciate the fact that “every sovereign state has its own national laws, which may be different from other countries, and that in the case of The Gambia, the sentences that were handed out were in due compliance with the laws of the country.”
He further reminded the delegates that there is no judicial system in the world that is perfect, including in their own countries.
Dr. Njogu Bah, according to the GRTS report, went on to say that “all death row inmates were convicted in due compliance with the provisions of the laws of The Gambia, and were tried by Gambian courts of competent jurisdiction, and had exhausted all their rights of appeal as provided by law.”
According to the news report, the delegates expressed satisfaction that the explanations given by the Gambian authorities were helpful and have shed light on many of their questions.
“They promise to transmit the information back to their respective governments,” the report added.
All those present, it further stated, agreed that the meeting was useful and beneficial and, as such, agreed to meet again in the not too distant future.