On this date, September 15, 2012, the Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh gave a speech to thousands of Youths in Kanilai, Gambia, defending the use of the death penalty in his country.
The Gambian Firing Squad
GAMBIA READY TO REPEAL CAPITAL PUNISHMENT LAW
September 20, 2012: President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia has given the strongest hint yet that his government is prepared to repeal the country's controversial death penalty laws.
Mr Jammeh who has already announced suspension of all executions of death row inmates, said changes to the capital punishment laws in the country’s constitution will only be made when the Gambian people express a desire for him to repeal the law and not through international pressure and condemnation.
“I am working for you and I’ll live for you and die for you,” Mr Jammeh told a group of youth in his native village, Kanilai, some 43 kilometres away from the capital, Banjul where he is on his annual leave.
“I will not succumb to human pressure to change the death penalty, no way, but if you the Gambian people plead with me to halt the executions, I will suspend it because whatever I do, I do it for your interest. If you Gambians want the death penalty to be removed from the constitution, it will be removed.”
Mr Jammeh added: “The death penalty has nothing to do with politics. If I am to sign 10, 000 death warrants to save 1.6 million Gambians, I will do it. If any country has a citizen in the Gambia and do not want them to face the firing squad, let them not kill any person in the Gambia. I am not a colony of European Union and I am nobody’s colony.”
The Gambian leader who has come under criticism since he announced the execution by a firing squad of nine death row inmates last months, said he took an oath of office at the beginning of his tenure to execute the functions of the Office of the President without fear or favour, affection or ill will and he will not in anyway succumb to any human pressure in the execution of his mandate.
(Source: JollofNews, 20/09/2012)
INTERNET SOURCE: http://allafrica.com/stories/201209281052.html
Gambia: The Execution of Murderers
By Hon. Lamin Saine, 28 September 2012
For me, all this looks to judgements as to the handling of a national security and governance problem with implications for the sovereignty of The Gambia. There lies the moral justification for the president's approval.Was itright or wrong for The President to have given approval for the execution of the nine convicted murderers?
We, in The Gambia, believe in God and our different religious beliefs and doctrines and general conditions of human existence incline us, even You the reader and myself, to think of human life as an absolute value,,so sacred, as not to be sacrificed under any circumstances. An analysis of the cases in point give a clear indication that this cannot be accepted as a dogma, as much may be conceived by imagination and there would be injustice, if this conception is applied to all ordinary relations of society. The conduct/behaviour of certain human beings in their interactions in societies have given rise to complexities necessitating Exceptions to be part of laws protecting the right to life, and also derogations to some other rights.
Section18 of The 1997 Constitution of The Gambia provides in its sub section i that: "No person shall be deprived of his or her life intentionally of right to life except in the execution of a sentence of death imposed by a court of competent jurisdiction in respect of a criminal offence for which the penalty is death under the Laws of The Gambia as they have effect in accordance with subsection (2) and of which he or she has been lawfully convicted.
Here, I wish to share an inspiration relating to ideas propounded by John Locke, an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers, whose writings influenced 18th century French Philosophers like Voltaire, and Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence, while his arguments concerning liberty and the social contract, later influenced the written works of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and other Founding Fathers of the United States.
His influence straddled both the 17th and early 18th century, and even extends to our days. The fundamental constitutional principle, he holds and which I consider quite valid and particularly relevant to the present debate, is that "the individual can do anything but that which is forbidden by law, and the state may do nothing but that which is authorised by law." This principle, applied to our present case, concretely and simply illustrates the facts that, individuals, the convicted murderers,have done what is forbidden by law and that, the state in reaction has done nothing, but what is authorised by law.
Evidently, in a typical democracy, where, therefore there is rule of law, legal pundits hold that, " the central institutions for interpreting and creating law are the three main branches of government , namely an impartial judiciary , a democratic legislature , and an accountable executive. While all these organs of the state are created and bound by law, an independent legal profession and a vibrant civil society support their progress and blow the whistle when the former err.The media and NGOS to influence policy by advocacy and playing the role of the watchdog. There is a strong feeling, which seems to lie deep in human nature, that disputes at law should be decided right. At the very worst, that they should be decided right within the presuppositions and the terms of the particular legal system in which they are decided.
Well, readers will recall that, of late there has been an unprecedented upsurge in violent murder crimes committed in The Gambia, calling therefore, for something to be done to curb it. Whose moral duty is it to do so? Our courts, i.e. our independent judiciary as mentioned above, were the proper ones that have jurisdiction for the particular cases. Where else would anyone want the cases to be decided? Britain, America or Senegal?
The defendants had been through due process. There is ample evidence to the fact that witnesses have given testimonies at public hearings and the media amplified the processes. The competent courts were, in each case, persuaded that the allegations of murder brought before them were of legal consequence. The corresponding punishment had preexisted the commission of the crimes and sufficiently provided for by a legislature democratically elected. The head of the Executive, which is accountable, is under oath to uphold the Constitution with discretion to approve the execution or exercise the prerogative of pardon, as provideding The Constitution thus:
Prerogative of mercy
(1) The president may, after consulting the Committee established by subsection (2)-
(a) grant to any person convicted of any offence a pardon either free or subject to lawful conditions;
(b) grant to any person a respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, of the execution of any punishment imposed on that person for any offence;
(c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for any punishment imposed on any person for any offence;
(d) remit the whole or any part of any punishment imposed on any person for such an offence or any penalty otherwise due to the State on account of any offence.
(2) There shall be a Committee on the exercise of the prerogative of mercy consisting of the Attorney General and three other persons appointed by the president subject to confirmation by the National Assembly.
The question which arises, is: which of the two actions was to be taken?
Normally, court decisions reach out beyond the individual case and enter into moulding and channelling the action of the community. The action, then ceases to be merely a regulation of a single actual dispute and becomes a regulation, and if all goes well, an anticipation and prevention, of potential crimes or disputes vastly greater in number than the actual.
In the present circumstances, there was public outcry that innocent lives were being taken by murderers with impunity and that it was high time a solution to halt the terrible mischief was found. The media express strong disapproval of the calamity and civil society lobbied state action to bring the threat to an end. What is the best way to do so?
Should President Jammeh deviate from what legislation commands him to do and congratulate murderers and commiserate with families of victims? Won't that have been excellent recipe for lawlessness and anarchy? What about the President's oath to uphold the rule of law?
Are we to fold our arms and cynically sit by and look the other way, thus allowing the unprecedented upsurge of murders to reach astronomical proportions before taking action? Who would anyone have blamed for taking the law into his/her own hands? How about the prospect of vengeance or mob justice?
Hasn't the application of the death penalty simply functioned as a last-resort machinery to take care of the slaughtering spree? Did the executions come as too much of a surprise to the interested parties, i.e.the convicted murderers, families of the victims and the rest of society, on the death row of the criminal murderers, living in perpetual fear or their lives, wondering who was next in the firing line of the murderers?
To a large degree the interested parties, lest they were living in a dream world, foresaw what any responsible and reasonable government authority will do about the madness so that potential murderers can reshape their affairs in consequence, i.e. be deterred from disillusionment of killing and getting away with it.
It was in this spirit that President Jammeh said, "Our objective is to create a peaceful, happy and crime-free nation, and to reinforce security measures."The Gambian president made the remarks following the upsurge of crimes such as murders, robbery with violence and abductions.
QUI DIT MIEUX? What other means, than application of the law,would work out to a settlement? Has the president done more than adhere to the use of that tool of such invaluable social readjustment in a chaotic murder spree? That tool called legislation, which is an authoritative command to the official, whether judicial or executive, henceforward to act in new ways dictated whenever a certain type of case may come before him.
Now to what others are saying!
As for those enemies of The Gambia, making dangerous and unguarded statements from Senegal and beyond, and even recommending sanctions against The Gambia, they should not be heeded for they are known for catching fire whenever President Jammeh sparks. They and other like-minded persons who display insensitivity to the agony and suffering of family members of the victims of the convicted persons,cannot claim love for human beings.
May I ask them how long it will take them to learn that fratricidal conflicts are a foolish and cruel method of settling bilateral questions and international differences as compared with dialogue? Have we not learnt any lesson from the events of 1981? how many Senegambian citizens perish? How many remain maimed? Who wants a repeat of those massacres? Who in the two countries can assert he or she is not related to someone in the other country? Who are the advocates of a suicide pact? Is anyone deceiving him/herself that it would be a walk-over and that there would be winners rather than losers on both sides?
The president and patriotic Gambians are made of stuff sterner than the impression that the gullible clowns want to bandy around. I don't think they want a Senegambia populated by widows and orphans!
I advise that Satan's advocates should not be heeded and/or given undue attention.Their ideas should be ignored because they contain assertions which are so partial, so faulty, so provocative they cry out loud for revision and rejection in the light of the analysis I have advanced above and that I shall supplement below. If our brothers are angry, and have hurriedly made utterances that are uncalled for, then they ought to mark a short pose of introspection, in view of the long standing relationship between us. we know from long experience that a letter or message sent, by way of threat, in fury, merely put sin the hands of the addressee in preserve, a poison to be used against the sender long in future.
For obligation of Gambia to consult or perhaps to obtain permission before acting, one should refer to questions of sovereignty and the terms of our bilateral and international relations. The 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations is salient here and the relevant Article which deals with the matter, provides:
"Article 36. Foreign nationals who are arrested or detained be given notice "without delay" of their right to have their embassy or consulate notified of that arrest. If the detained foreign national so requests, the police must fax that notice to the embassy or consulate, which can then check up on the person. The notice to the consulate can be as simple as afax, giving the person's name, the place of arrest, and if possible, something about the reason for the arrest or detention.
The Gambia Police Force should be given credit for their adherence to the strict application of this article and I am sure, this can be confirmed by the Consular Sections of The Guinea Bissau, Conakry, Ghanaian, Nigerian, Senegalese, SierraLeonean and United States Embassies in The Gambia. The Gambia government should also be commended for not allowing dissidents of other nations to use the country as a haven for hauling insults and threats to the governments of the nations they belong to. I think this stance should be reciprocated by our neighbours and other friends.
Readers, please read below and tell me if The Gambia needs a lesson on democracy from Amnesty International and others trying to school us in the subject. Many need to look in their backyard because eyes can see beyond the limits of what is paraded outwardly as a front.Charity begins at home! For instance----
Application of the treaty by the United States.
In March 2005, the United States pulled out of the Optional Protocol to the Convention, which allows the International Court of Justice to have compulsory jurisdiction over disputes arising under the Convention. In June 2006, the United States Supreme Court ruled that foreign nationals who were not notified of their right to consular notification and access after an arrest may not use the treaty violation to suppress evidence obtained in police interrogation or belatedly raise legal challenges after trial ( Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon ).
In March 2008, the Supreme Court further ruled that the decision of the International Court of Justice directing the United States to give "review and reconsideration" to the cases of 51 Mexican convicts on death row was not a binding domestic law and therefore could not be used to overcome state procedural default rules that barred further post-conviction challenges. Here, we are confronted with a situation, where some nations have the power to end men's lives, if it serves their national security interests, but why does poor Gambia not have the same rights?
Reader, I have deliberately put the two research outcomes from the Internet on the same paradigmatic axis for your appreciation of double standards. Amnesty draws attention to human rights abuses and campaigns for compliance with international laws and standards. It works to mobilise public opinion to put pressure on governments that let abuse take place. The objective of the organisation is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."
Do Mexicans have Rights?
Let me quote here from this lovely and reliable source of knowledge called The Holy bible. King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.). Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. Amnesty International was founded in London in 1961, following the publication of the article " The Forgotten Prisoners " in The Observer 28 May 1961 Need we remind them to help all nations take care of their own long list of persons on Death Row or others held in detention centres for various security and public order concerns?
Before concluding, let us have a quick look again at the background: Following spate of murders, and death sentence convictions,
Dawda Bojang, a Gambian national,was sentenced to death and executed for murdering a British citizen;
Lamin Darboe, a Gambian national was sentenced to death and executed for murdering a Mauritanian national, Three Gambian , former soldiers,were sentenced to death and executed for murdering Gambian citizens;
Tabara samba, a Senegalese national, was sentenced to death and executed for murdering a Gambian national to mention only some cases. Does nationality of a particular country make one life more valuable than another? Was Tabara executed because she was Senegalese? These matters need handling with caution and rationality.
Yahya Jammeh, who with others took over the reins of power in 1994 did so with the aim of saving Gambians from economic and other serious hardships. No sooner he settle, he embarked on further programmes to help sustain life. These include HIV and hypertension treatment and then the infertility treatment.He should therefore be viewed as a helper to sustaining life rather than one depriving people of it.
We still have vivid memories of his intervention in the evacuation of Gambians and other nationals from Ivory Coast in 2002during crisis leading to the death of General Robert Gueye, then from Libya, recently and from Liberia many years ago. " His intention is sane and clear yet different individuals have their own opinions about it. Our Constitution guarantees such rights.
However, life is such that in the mental background that such developments as murders and executions,are bound to create,every problem finds its setting. We may try to see things as objectively as we please, None the less, we can never see them with any eyes except our own.
According to Benjamin CARDOZO, all our lives, forces which we do not recognize and cannot name, draw us into making choices. They are:
1.--inherited instincts, 2.traditional beliefs, 3.acquired convictions, and the resultant is an outlook on life. In conclusion, I hope that this write-up will help readers understand that the particular object sought by the executions was directed toward facilitating and improving men's coexistence in The Gambia and regulating with fairness and equity our relations life in common.
In a case like this the principle of executive clemency seems admirably -called for to mitigate the rigours of the law. I totally, therefore, agree with and join my fellow Gambians who love peace and justice and who made the appeals hey have addressed to the President. There was every certainty that these requests for clemency was going to be heeded, coming as they do from those were at the origin of the request for the murders to be halted. One cannot but recognise and praise the President's quality of being amenable to negotiation and reconciliation, more so when it regards demands by the people whose affairs,he is presiding over.
INTERNET SOURCE: http://www.foroyaa.gm/index.php/burning-issues/11331-the-president-s-first-comments-after-the-executions
Published on Monday, 24 September 2012 15:53 | Written by Ousman Sillah
According to news on GRTS television, the APRC party on Saturday, 15 September, 2012, mobilized young people from around the country and outside to go to President Yahya Jammeh's home village of Kanilai in Foni to help in the work on his 8 Kilometre long farm and after which they were gathered for a rally that was addressed by the president. After the speeches by various speakers, including the Minster of Youth and Sports, the President was invited to address the gathering. He started with the usual greetings, followed by his address, which was done mainly in the Wollof language with remarks here and there in the Mandinka and English languages. It is in this speech that the President first spoke about the executions after they were carried out. Here is the translated version of the aspect of the President's speech to the young people who gathered at Kanilai which deals with his opinion on the executions.
Excerpts From The Speech of the President:
Some people would stand now to talk about the killings. There is someone who escaped the law after cutting Abdou Njie into pieces, but unfortunately the foreign embassy's intervened in the case and it was dismissed, otherwise he too would have been cleared. The laws of the Gambia have nothing to do with politics. The law is very clear. It says that Yahya Jammeh or any other person does not have the right to eat until one is full and go to someone else's compound and stab the person with a knife and kill him/her. The law says if you do this the law will kill you. This is what the law says. If you kill a person unlawfully you too have to be killed. If you want to kill someone and you know what will happen then it is you who killed yourself. What is the population of the Gambia? Out of 1.6 million, we killed nine because they killed others. If you did not plead with me, if the elders of this country did not plead with me, I would have proceeded with the executions. .... But let me make it clear. Before I came here, I watched BBC World News and heard them say that Yahya Jammeh has given orders to suspend the executions till later. They added that it was the international community that criticized me and the African heads of state but most importantly there was also pressure from the European Union that is why I stopped. Do I look like anybody who will succumb to human pressure? No way! But if you the Gambian people want me to stop I will stop because whatever I do I do it for your interest. I live for you, I die for you (English). Whatever you tell me that is what I will do. If you ask me to abolish the death penalty, we will do so. But if tomorrow anyone kills your relative, don't ask what the government is doing about it. It has nothing to do with politics. Now if you have your citizens here and you don't want them to face the firing squad let them not kill anybody because we have all nationalities here ..... there are some countries whose citizens are not on death row (English). ... If I have succumbed to pressure I would not have killed anyone, because on the first day I made the announcement there was a lot of noise and if I had succumbed to pressure then no one would have been killed. So they got it damn wrong that I suspended the executions because of external pressure (English). They said they put pressure on me by criticizing me and that is why I stopped the killing. This is not true. You know I have long been swearing to put a stop to the killing because it was increasing.... The reason why I left it there is because the Constitution of The Gambia states that if a person is to be killed it is the president who should sign the death warrant. My role is to sign. And if I have to sign 10,000 death warrants to save the lives of 1.6 million Gambians I will do it with pleasure. I will not allow less than one percent of the population to hold 1.6 million Gambians hostage (English). I will not allow this small percentage from preventing people from even going to pray to worship Allah. This I will not accept. So now, I swore to the Constitution on your behalf that I will abide by it. The Constitution states how the law should operate but it again states that it has given me the prerogative of mercy. It states that if I see that someone is to be pardoned the law has given me the authority to pardon such a person. I, Yahya Jammeh, for someone who eats until he is well fed, drinks alcohol until he is drunk, or become insolent, if you go and kill someone who has done nothing to you if the law condemns you I will not pardon you. Why is that? If someone kills and you pardon the person then you should pardon all the rest. I have sworn to uphold the Constitution without fear or favour, affection or ill will. Now how can I pardon others and then have others executed? Is that fair? You the Gambians, you are the ones who made me to swear before the Constitution, so if you ask me to wait, I must pay heed to your request. This is why at the time when I swore to execute the death row inmates if you had begged me then they would not have been killed. But you didn't beg me. But at the time even if you had begged me I would have proceeded with the executions because I had already sworn to do it. This is an indication now that Yahya Jammeh does not only talk without action, as some may say by calling me a bluff when I talk. If there is a country whose people are here who killed people and you said they should not be killed, that is not going to happen in the Gambia. So let them leave the country and that is all I want to tell them. The Gambia is not the colony of any regional or sub-regional organization. The Gambia is a sovereign country. So the youth of the Gambia and the elders and women...The reason why I said I am not telling you anything new, it was in 1994 that I told you that I will transform the Gambia into a city state. It was in 1994 that I said with the grace of Allah wherever you go to the Gambia you will find electricity there. Although, now it is not everywhere that you can find electricity, but Gambia is the only country in Africa where one can find 80% of the rural population with electricity and running water due to our hard work and the true friends of the Gambia. We live for the almighty Allah and we will die for the almighty Allah. Have I ever promised you and then tell you if it pleases the European Union or the IMF and World Bank? Did I ever say this? Whatever I tell or promise you I would say if it pleases the Allah and Prophet. They cannot propaganda Yahya Jammeh. I made it very clear that Gambia will never be enslaved twice. Four hundred years of colonization. If you want to re-colonise the Gambia you will fight for ten million years and you will not colonise one inch of the territory. Youths of the Gambia thank you very much (English). You know that 98% of what is produced from the farms (owned by the president) goes to you. From 1994 to date, I have been supporting the education of so many children and go to the records. And I am not looking at anybody's face. For our survival as a country, we don't depend on anybody. It is Allah who provides for us. So let us make efforts to develop our country by working for what we eat and eating what we work for. Because for Africa they even use food as a weapon. When an African country has a problem, before they help you, they place conditions that are unacceptable. What is that? Wickedness. That's why I want you to open your eyes and ears. Then be serious with your education, those in other skills should pursue their trade. I cannot say that the young people do not have problems. Even, for me as President I have problems. And my problem is that I do not have enough money to turn Gambia into a city state in one day. That's my problem. If I had this money then none of you would be poor. Then all these things we are talking about would have been done....Those that are talking where do they find all the problems solved....I am not a politician, I'm a leader. I want to develop the Gambia; I want to develop Africa so that tomorrow Africa....Gambia is no one's colony. We depend on the almighty Allah for our survival. The only crime they say I have committed is that I don't accept re-colonisation. If that is the only crime I have committed then I will love to be a criminal.... I thank you the youth. I want to tell you something, the Gambian youth and other good people that any time I betray you or I betray Africa then let the almighty Allah destroy me. Thank you.
President's Address to Thousands of Youths in Kanilai
Published on Sep 25, 2012
The President of the Republic has vowed that he will not in any way succumb to any human pressure in the execution of his mandate. His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Jammeh made the remark while addressing over 4000 youths on Sunday, 16th September 2012, who were at the weekend in Kanilai to weed his 8-kilometer farm.
VIDEO SOURCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OnmEUvcNTw