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Gambia to execute all death row prisoners next month

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh (pictured) pledged to have all of the country’s death-row prisoners executed by mid-September in a stern Eid address aired on Sunday which targeted “heinous acts” including homosexuality and drug use.

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AFP - Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has told the people of his tiny west African nation that by the middle of September all those already sentenced to death for crimes will be executed.

He added that crimes like banditry, drug trafficking or illicit use, homosexuality, murder, terrorism and other subversive activities against either the state or the people will not be tolerated.

Jammeh said in a televised address broadcast on Sunday evening and Monday to mark this year's Muslim feast of Eid-al-Fitr that the security forces and the judiciary will continue to be empowered to enforce the law where applicable.

France condemned Gambia’s decision on Tuesday in a stern declaration made by the foreign affairs ministry, calling on the president to aim instead towards a total abolition of the death penalty.

Source: AFP

"By the middle of next month, all the death sentences would have been carried out to the letter; there is no way my government will allow 99 percent of the population to be held to ransom by criminals," Jammeh said.

Though he did not give the exact figure of those to be executed, an AFP toll puts the figure of those condemned to death since July 2010, including former security chiefs, at 47.

However judicial sources say the figure is higher than that.

"All those guilty of serious crimes and (who) are condemned will face the full force of the law. All punishments prescribed by law will be maintained in the country to ensure that criminals get what they deserve," Jammeh said.

"My government will take whatever legal action is necessary to expunge these deadly and heinous acts from the country," he said.

Jammeh, a former military officer who seized power in a 1994 coup, brooks no dissent in a country often blasted by rights bodies for abuses.

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