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.
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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocidei
X
Elizabeth Lee
August 31, 2015 8:23 PM
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the civil war in Guatemala. During the conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed in what is known as the Guatemalan genocide. Researchers are now collecting video testimonies of the survivors to preserve the memories of what happened to prevent future genocides. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the end of the civil war in Guatemala. During the conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed in what is known as the Guatemalan genocide. Researchers are now collecting video testimonies of the survivors to preserve the memories of what happened to prevent future genocides. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs