News / Africa

EU, UN Weigh Sanctions After Gambian Executions

Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh attends leaders meeting at the African Union, Addis Ababa, July 15, 2012.
Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh attends leaders meeting at the African Union, Addis Ababa, July 15, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Rizwan Syed
LONDON – Nine prisoners were recently shot dead by a firing squad on the orders of Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, prompting intense criticism from international bodies and rights groups including the European Union, the United Nations and Amnesty International.
 
Carried out during the last weekend of August, the criminal executions, Gambia's first in more than 25 years, have triggered a round condemnation led by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is calling on President Jammeh to halt executions and threatening to cancel the EU’s large aid package, a move that would have big consequences for the country's political future.
 
Jammeh declared last weekend that he plans to execute all 47 of the country's death-row inmates by the end of September. Although it is not clear what crimes the prisoners are being executed for, many are former officials that were detained for treason in the wake of Jammeh's rise to power.
 
According to Robert Rotberg, a former professor of governance at Harvard University, further executions would put Jammeh in the same league as former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, whose rule was characterized by widespread human-rights abuses, political repression and poor economic management.
 
Despite reports of widespread human-rights abuses, Jammeh, says Rotberg, maintains an iron grip over the country’s politics, including harsh press laws to quiet the media, which will likely prevent dissidents from taking action.
 
"The dictator has been in power for so long that he’s calcified the political system," he says. "So the idea that the withdrawal of EU aid would in some way embolden the dissidents in The Gambia is, I think, hoping for too much."
 
Explaining that the sanctions "put Gambia in the international doghouse," he said, "the EU aid per say won’t make a huge difference.”
 
The effects of withholding EU funding, he warns, could be negligible unless designed to target the country's tourism sector.
 
"About a third of the country's GDP is touristic receipts of one kind or another, and tourism is its largest source of foreign exchange," he said. "If tourists or tourist agencies think The Gambia is no longer an appropriate place to go, then that will hurt the most." 
 
Harming the poor and radicalizing the rhetoric
But according to Abdoulaye Saine, professor of political science at the University of Miami, in a country where nearly 60 percent of the population lives beneath the poverty line and corruption is widespread, it is the poor who suffer most under sanctions.
 
"Jammeh’s not going to be feeling it," said Saine. "His cohort will not feel it, but the ordinary Gambians, who already are fatigued by economic hardship and clearly frightened by these extra-judicial killings, [will].
 
"Jameh needs to be sanctioned from travel to the EU, to the US and other major capitals and countries of the world,” he said.
 
Known for strongly-worded statements and speeches, Jammeh once claimed that he will "rule for 1-billion years" and insisted that he has invented the cure for AIDS.
 
Saine says international condemnation of Gambia’s death penalties will only intensify such rhetoric.
 
“It is going to further radicalize Jammeh in his anti-western rhetoric," he said. "These sanctions might give him another opportunity to lambaste the West: I’m sure you’ve heard him say if people don’t like what he’s doing in The Gambia, ‘Let them go to hell,’ which, to me ,really is unsavory, undiplomatic and clearly very unstatesmanlike.”
 
Gambia's execution of two Senegalese nationals last weekend has also caused a diplomatic rift between the two countries, with Senegal’s Prime Minister calling for sanctions.

You May Like

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gambian
September 03, 2012 8:44 PM
Yahya Jammeh has been killing defenseless Gambians for the past 18 years, force labor, taking our properties via illegal tax system, draconian press laws and the world is watching- a new Liberia is in the making. We are ask the western world for targeted sanctions. Dictator Jammeh ,his family should be put on travel ban and his cabinet official. His illegal asset in the west should be freeze( the property in Washington DC ) A list of citizens yahya jammeh killed will be posted on your website

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid