Gambia to execute drug offenders

2010-10-06 14:00

Banjul - Gambia has moved to introduce stiffer penalties for drug crimes, saying it will execute offenders caught with more than 250g of cocaine or heroin.

Possession of 100g-250g will be punishable by 25-75 years in prison under new legislation voted on Tuesday by the country's National Assembly.

The tiny West African state is becoming a transit centre for the drug trade to Europe and Attorney General Edward Anthony Gomez said the amended legisalation was aimed at combatting the problem.

"The menace of drug trafficking and the activities of major druglords have started to rear their ugly head in the jurisdiction in recent times," he told parliament, adding "the devastating impact of these activities on the stability and development of any state cannot be overemphasised."

Gambia has in recent months seen an increase in drug crime and the country’s former police chief and anti-drug agency’s chief are facing trial on charges ranging from drug trafficking to robbery.

Also on trial are 12 foreigners including Dutch, Venezuelan and Nigerian nationals who were arrested with over 2 tons of cocaine.

On the same day, members of the National Assembly also stiffened penalties attached to trafficking in persons as well as for crimes of rape and robbery.

"Both the strategic location of the Gambia as a gateway to the western world, as well as a liberal immigration policy has attracted the attention of unscrupulous persons in using the country as a transit route for trafficking in persons," Gomez told deputies in proposing the bill.