Uphold freeze on executions, Gambia told

2012-10-22 12:53
(AFP, File)

(AFP, File)

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Banjul - The European Union on Sunday urged Gambia to honour a freeze on the death penalty after the tiny west African nation's supreme court upheld death sentences against seven officials for treason.

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh last month announced a temporary halt to executions, bowing to international pressure after putting to death nine prisoners in August.

But on Friday, the Supreme Court upheld death sentences against the men, who were accused of having plotted a coup.

A statement published by the British High Commission representing the EU locally in Gambia said the EU "urges the Gambia to uphold its commitment to exercising its moratorium on the death penalty".

The statement added that the High Commission was deeply concerned after EU representatives were denied access to the Supreme Court hearing on Friday.

"The refusal of access is contrary to the provisions in the Gambian constitution that court proceedings should be in public," the statement said.

Jammeh himself came to power in a coup in 1994. He has pushed aside all those who oppose him and is regularly accused of rights violations and of fostering a climate of fear.

On 19 August, he said all prisoners on death row would be executed by mid-September. A week later, nine of them, including two Senegalese, were killed by firing squad, provoking an international outcry.

The EU is opposed to the death penalty in all cases.

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