The Gambian president Adama Barrow has suspended the death penalty in the country ahead of plans to abolish capital punishment which is still legal a year after brutish Yahya Jammeh’s ouster.
Barrow announced the decision during the country’s 53rd independence anniversary celebration in the capital Banjul.
“I will use this opportunity to declare a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in The Gambia, as the first step towards abolition,” he was quoted by Reuters.
This forms part of the measures promised by the new government to reverse the many decisions taken by the former leader Jammeh including the recent re-entry into the Commonwealth as the 53rd nation-member after Jammeh’s withdrawal in 2013.
Only about 20 countries in Africa have abolished the death penalty with Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan still practising executions.
Some East African countries have not banned executions including Tanzania whose president John Magufuli stated last year that he cannot assent to an execution despite the death penalty being legal.
Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni said last month that he plans to enforce the death penalty which has not been sanctioned in the country in the past 13 years. His reason was that people are taking his “leniency as a Christian” to get away with crimes.
All countries in southern Africa have banned the death penalty except Botswana which recently executed a 28-year-old suspected murderer accused of killing his girlfriend and her three-year-old son in 2010. This is the first execution in two years.
Capital punishment is on the decline across Africa and according to Amnesty International, African governments have executed 22 people in 2016, lower than the 43 executions in 2016.