“Deplorable” death threats from Gambia’s president

The Gambian president’s reported threat to kill anyone who wants to destabilize the country, was deplorable, Amnesty International has said. Speaking on on national television on Monday, President Yahya Jammeh also specifically threatened human rights defenders, and those working with them, by emphasizing that their security and personal safety would not be guaranteed by the government of Gambia.

“We call on President Yahya Jammeh to immediately retract these statements and to affirm The Gambia government’s commitment to respect, protect and promote human rights in line with its constitution and obligations under international law,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director.

Amnesty International has also called on the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, and the Executive Secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mohammed Ibn Chambas, to condemn the statements made by President Yahya Jammeh in the strongest possible terms.

Amnesty International released the report Gambia: Fear Rules in November 2008. The report illustrates how human rights violations in Gambia are perpetrated by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), army and police against real and perceived opponents of the government on a routine basis.

The report demonstrates that once people are in the custody of the government, they are susceptible to a whole range of human rights violations including unlawful detention, torture while in detention, unfair trials, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial executions.

Amnesty International, along with civil society groups across Africa and press freedom organizations, organized a day of action on 22 July 2009 to protest continuing human rights violations in The Gambia, including repression of the media.