By Bekai Njie
The attorney general and Minister of Justice, Abubacarr Tambadou, has reiterated President Barrow’s public moratorium that makes the application of the death penalty null and void, saying all the 22 death row inmates will serve life imprisonment instead.
The attorney general acknowledged that the death penalty still exists in our laws but was adamant that the government calls for its total abolition, while hoping that it will be abolished when the new constitution comes into being.
“We all know that the president had declared a public moratorium on the application of the death penalty, so no one will be executed in this country under this government I can assure you of that,” Tambadou said.
He said by virtue of this, all of the death row inmates which totals 22 will serve life imprisonment instead. “But furthermore, the president also committed to life imprisonment all the death sentences that were issued by our courts, so there is no longer any person as in such; their life sentences have been committed now.
“The courts can only apply the law as it is, not as it ought to be, so they are duty bound to apply sentences in certain situations, in certain crimes when accused persons are convicted of certain acts.”
“The courts don’t have discretion under a duty to impose the death penalty. When they do that, their sentences by virtue of the president’s commuting of all death sentences to life imprisonment, they also fall under the life imprisonment category.”
In its recent reports to the government of The Gambia on the state of human rights in the country, Amnesty International raised concerns over three people who are to be executed as per the rulings of the courts. But Justice Minister Tambadou went on to assure the public and all those concerned of the government’s commitment to values of human rights; key among which includes right to life.