By: Dawda Baldeh
On January 19th, 2024, Gambians received what many described as shocking news: the granting of amnesty to 37 convicted inmates for serious crimes such as rape, robbery, murder, and corruption, leaving questions about whether due process was followed.
This development raised safety concerns among the public, including rights activists and anti-corruption groups, regarding why such individuals would be granted amnesty.
January 19th holds significance in Gambian history as President Adama Barrow was sworn in as Gambia’s President on this day at the Gambian Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, in 2017.
Many assumed that the President used this occasion to pardon the convicted inmates, but the government spokesperson stated it was coincidental in an interview last week.
This time, the National Assembly is expressing concerns about the process of granting amnesty to the inmates.
“I urge the National Assembly to investigate the President’s use of the Prerogative of Mercy to determine if due process was followed. I have concerns about the presidential amnesty decision for these convicted inmates, and many people are worried about the type of Gambia our children will be growing up in. The Gambia where pedophiles, rapists, murderers, and corrupt individuals are given Presidential pardons by the highest office in the land is not what we wanted,” said Modou Lamin B. Bah, the NAM for Banjul North.
He asserted that in 2016, Gambians elected President Barrow with expectations of positive change; however, he added that those hopes are completely decimated.
“This is our responsibility, and we cannot mortgage that responsibility to anybody. Due process must be followed, and the president’s office must be advised to adhere to its policies, which it continues to tout to citizens, donors, and the international world,” he added.
Bah further expressed frustration over the pardoning of the convicted inmates and raised concerns that it will undermine the country’s security, the Never Again Mantra, and the ongoing security sector reform.
He added, “We must act now and ensure that every child, woman, and man can grow up safe and protected to achieve their best potentials.”
The exercising of the Presidential prerogative of mercy, resulting in the pardoning of 37 convicted inmates, has sparked safety concerns and raised more questions about the government’s commitment to the fight against corruption and crimes. The government spokesperson has offered justifications, claiming that due process was followed in the entire process.