Gambian president Yahya Jammeh has announced that all death row inmates will be?executed by mid-September. Amnesty International urges the President to immediately?retract this call and impose an official moratorium on executions.

On both 19 and 20 August, in a television address broadcast to mark the Muslim feast of Eid-al-Fitrt, President?Jammeh announced to the nation that, by the middle of September all death sentences will be ?carried out to the?letter?, to ?ensure that criminals get what they deserve.? If executions are carried out, it will mark the end of a 27-year period without executions.

According to The Gambian government, there were 42 men and two women on death row as of 31 December?2011, 13 of whom had been sentenced during that year. This year, three men have reportedly also received the?death sentence, making a total of 47 people currently on death row.

This announcement by the President has caused a great deal of fear and distress to death row inmates and their?families. Death sentences, carried out by hanging, are imposed for murder and treason. In The Gambia, death?sentences are known to be used as a tool against the political opposition. Furthermore, international standards on?fair trials, including presumption of innocence, access to lawyers and exclusion of any evidence obtained as a?result of torture, are often not respected.

President Jammeh?s announcement follows the launch in May 2012 of what the President called ?Operation?Bulldozer? to ?rid the country of all criminals?.

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