Gambian Executions Begin, Says Rights Group

9 put to death; dozens may follow: Amnesty
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2012 12:43 PM CDT
Gambian Executions Begin, Says Rights Group
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh in 2006.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, file)

Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh alarmed human rights activists last week when he vowed to quickly execute all of the nation's prisoners on death row. Amnesty International is now worried that he's started making good on the threat, reports Voice of America. Nine inmates were killed late Thursday, the first executions in the West African country in 27 years, and the rights group says more could come in the next few days.

It's not clear how many inmates are on death row, but most wire accounts put the number at least 47 at the time of Jammeh's announcement. Amnesty called on him to "reverse the giant leap backward" and call off any more hangings. Treason is a capital offense in Gambia, and critics fear that Jammeh will use it an excuse to get rid of political opponents, reports AP. (More The Gambia stories.)

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