Despite not executing any prisoners in almost 30 years, Gambia's president has promised to carry out the death sentences for all of the nation's death row inmates before the middle of September. Yahya Jammeh made the announcement in a speech to mark the end of Ramadan this week, but there appears to be no motive for the change in plans other than a desire to appear tough on criminals.
Multiple human rights groups, including Amnesty International and the French government, denounced the decision saying that trails in Gambia are "notoriously unfair" and sentences are often used to silence political opponents of Jammeh. Agence France-Presse puts its count of Gambia's death row inmates at 47, but the actual number could be much higher. One hope is that Jammeh's speech was a bluff, as he made a similar declaration in 2009, but did not act on it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.