Gambia—Human Rights Council—Death Penalty—March 2019

The Advocates for Human Rights and the World Coalition against the Death Penalty submitted a joint stakeholder report addressing civil and political rights in the Gambia for the 34th Session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to be held in November 2019.

The report commends the Gambia’s progress with regards to civil and political rights and suggests further points of improvement. The Gambia put a moratorium on death penalty, and signed and ratified the Second Optional Protocol, but it has not yet amended its constitution to abolish the death penalty. The Gambia ratified the Convention Against Torture as well but has not yet criminalized torture. While extrajudicial killings were an issue in the past, no killings were reported in 2017. Furthermore, the new regime established the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission as a transitional justice mechanism regarding extrajudicial killings. The government established an independent Human Rights Commission, and observers reported increased respect for judicial independence and impartiality. Nevertheless, delays in the legal process and limited access to legal aid remain problems; observers reported concerns about unlawful detentions, high number of pretrial detainees, and physical conditions of detention.

The Advocates and the World Coalition against the Death Penalty propose the following recommendations to the government of the Gambia:

  • Amend the Constitution of the Gambia and the Criminal Code of the Gambia to formalize and make permanent the Gambia’s prohibition of the use of the death penalty.
  • Amend the Criminal Code of the Gambia to criminalize torture.
  • Adopt domestic legislation implementing the Convention Against Torture and the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture.
  • Improve the conditions of detention in all places of detention and ensure that prisoners and detainees have access to medical care, and adequate and appropriate food, hygiene, and exercise.
  • Revise the Prisons Act to ensure that the 72-hour detention limit is respected in all places of detention.