BANJUL, Gambia – Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has halted the executions of prisoners on death row, at least for now.
Jammeh issued a statement Saturday saying that he suspended the imminent executions of 37 inmates sentenced to death, as long as violent crime does not rise in Gambia.
The Gambian leader said he was acting in response to numerous appeals from Gambian council elders, women's organizations and youth groups following the execution last month of nine prisoners.
The executions by firing squad prompted many condemnations including from the European Union, the United Nations and Amnesty International.
"What happens next will be dictated by either a declining violent crime rate, in which case the moratorium will be indefinite, or an increase in violent crime in which case the moratorium will be lifted automatically," said the statement from Jammeh.
The killings of the nine were first time Gambia were the first time in 27 years that the death penalty was used.
Jammeh has been in power since 1994.