On July 23rd, 2015, Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh began releasing prisoners from some of the worst prisons in Africa. On the same day, President Barack Obama left Washington, DC. for second trip to Africa as president of the United States. Yahya Jammeh, has long time been on the radar of western governments and institution unhappy with the state of human rights in the Gambia. As a result, in January, 2015, the United States removed Gambia from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act for failing to meet eligibility requirements.
In December, 2014, Reuters reports the European Union withholding critical funds from the Gambia. And in October, 2013, Yahya Jammeh unilaterally withdrew the Gambia from the 54-nation Commonwealth of Nations. Additionally, Yahya Jammeh has on many occasions, either, expelled diplomats from western governments and international institutions, or block the appointments of others to Gambia. Over the past several years, Gambia’s relations with the west hit rock-bottom over the Gambia’s death squads, executions, tortures, forced disappearances, mass incarcerations and the fleeing of Gambians to lands near and far. Tensions between the Gambian military regime and Gambian dissident, political establishment, western governments and regional and international NGOs and institutions have continued to deteriorate to levels where the threats of civil unrest are real and the demands for political change is louder.
Under these circumstances, Yahya Jammeh, isolated and shunned by both his African peers and the international community, has finally relented on the question of prisoner release. In addition, Yahya Jammeh has extended amnesty to dispute dissidents to return home. The Gambia Consultative Council (GCC) wants to make it categorically clear that the organization and its supporters reject the offer of amnesty as ridiculous and unnecessary. Gambian dissidents around the world have done nothing criminal, for which they need amnesty. Since its formation, the GCC has fought for the liberation of the Gambian people against the murders, executions, mass incarcerations, tortures and the general fear in Gambia. GCC, like similar civil society organizations around the world, makes no apology for its role in fighting to free the Gambian people. GCC also calls for freeing all the political prisoners from the dungeons of death; too late for the over five hundred prisoners who have already died in Mile 2 Prison since 1994. GCC takes the opportunity to condemn the national Assembly for its role in passing a repressive Bill geared towards turning Gambia into a one-party state. The National Assembly’s act was a cowardly act designed to give Yahya Jammeh complete control over the lives of Gambians. In the same vein, GCC asks the National Assembly to not bring the proposed Death Penalty amendment Bill up for debate, now or ever. GCC calls for Yahya Jammeh to step down to allow Gambians to form a unity government between the political establishment and civil society.