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August 27, 2012

Gambia Confirms 9 Death Row Executions

by VOA News

Gambian officials Monday said nine death row prisoners have been executed by firing squad, after President Yahya Jammeh said all death sentences would be carried out by mid-September.

The interior ministry issued a statement saying the nine, including one woman, were executed on Sunday. The statement also warns the general public that criminal activities which carry a death sentence will not be tolerated.

Amnesty International reported the execution of the nine prisoners on Saturday, a day before the government said it took place.

An African Union envoy urged the Gambian president last week to renounce his plans to execute all 47 death row prisoners.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton warned Gambia that the 27-nation bloc will "urgently" consider an appropriate response to the reported executions.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. State department, Victoria Nuland, said earlier Monday that Washington has called on Gambia regularly to ensure that it fulfills its international obligations and provides for due process throughout its judicial system, expressing concern about the way the Gambian government goes about it.

The European Union has abolished the death penalty, while the United States has not.

In a televised address to mark this year's Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr earlier this month, President Jammeh said, "By the middle of next month, all the death sentences will have been carried out to the letter."  

The death row executions were Gambia's first in more than 25 years.