(Nairobi) – The Gambian government’s repression of the political opposition in the months prior to the December 1, 2016 presidential election threatens the fairness of the election, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 43-page report, “More Fear Than Fair: Gambia’s 2016 Presidential Election,” describes how the government of President Yahya Jammeh, who came to power in a 1994 coup, has used a crackdown on the opposition, domination of state media, and state resources for campaigning to ensure a political advantage in the election. Authorities have threatened, arbitrarily arrested, jailed, and tortured members of opposition political parties. Since April, more than 90 opposition activists have been arrested for participating in peaceful protests, with 30 sentenced to three-year prison terms. Two opposition activists have died in custody.
“The Jammeh government has threatened, beaten, and tortured opposition party members for exercising their basic rights, all but extinguishing hopes for a fair election,” said Babatunde Olugboji, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch. “Unless this situation improves, Gambia’s international donors should impose targeted sanctions on senior officials implicated in abuses.”