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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid