President Jammeh of the Gambia made headlines on 19 August 2012 at a celebration of Eid (Muslim holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan) by announcing his plans to execute all 47 prisoners on death row by September. President Jammeh said "There is no way my government will allow 99 per cent of the population to be held to ransom by criminals." Some of the death row prisoners were political prisoners sentenced to death for treason, including former military and intelligence chiefs. Amnesty International reported the first executions on 24 August 2012, saying nine prisoners were executed the previous night. On 27 August 2012 the Interior Minister confirmed that nine prisoners were executed by firing squad and that the rest of the executions would taken place by mid-September.
Coming from a country (the United States) where prisoners are still executed for their crimes I am familiar with the debate surrounding capital punishment, and the US can't really criticize the Gambia for executing their prisoners since we do it too. We also have criticism regarding the fairness of trials and executing innocent prisoners, but I question the timing of the executions. It seems that the government of the Gambia is drawing out the period of executions over a couple weeks. Is the plan to execute nine or ten prisoners per week? Wouldn't it be more merciful and efficient to execute all the prisoners at once? What advantages does the Gambia gain by lengthening the execution period as with every execution or the discussion of the execution generates more international outrage? Perhaps the intent is to keep the Gambia and President Jammeh in the spotlight? Perhaps I am missing something else entirely- if so, please let me know.
I thought President Jammeh's speech was interesting that he kept addressing Muslims in general and the true believers, asking them to come together to save their noble religion and the Quaran. He also referred to conflicts in the middle-east and in Afghanistan and the need to rid themselves of false believers/pretenders within.
Details on the 9 executed can be found at http://observer.gm/africa/gambia/article/9-death-row-inmates-executed