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

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
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.
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.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid