GAMBIA ABOLISHES DEATH PENALTY FOR DRUG-RELATED OFFENCES
April 4, 2011: the Gambian lawmakers approved new amendments, presented before the National Assembly members by Attorney General and minister of Justice, Edward Gomez, abolishing the death penalty for drug-related offences and replacing it with life imprisonment.
The legislators had in October 2010 approved a law that imposes the death penalty on people convicted of being in possession of cocaine or heroine amounting to or more than 250 grams.
Presenting three bills for amendment - the Drugs Control (Amendment) Act 2011, Trafficking in Person (Amendment) Act 2011 and Criminal Code (Amendment) Act 2011 - Justice minister Edward Gomez acknowledged that the amendment of the Drug Control Act in 2010 overlooked Section 18 (2) of The Gambia Constitution of 1997 which stipulates that no court in the country âshall be competent to impose a sentence of death for any offence unless the sentence is prescribed by law and the offence involves violence, or the administration of any toxic substance, resulting in the death of another person.â
Voicing his support for the amendment, majority leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta described it as being responsive to the dictates of The Gambia constitution, commending the minister for the hard work that had gone into the amendment.
Also minority leader Momodou LK Sanneh supported the amendments on the point that it was brought to toe the line of the constitution, but asked for a little leniency in the sentences prescribed. (Sources: Today.gm, 07/04/2011)