Gambia President, Barrow Orders Release Of 171 Prisoners

Gambia President, Barrow Orders Release Of 171 Prisoners

As Gambia enters a new era of democracy, President Adama Barrow has reiterated his commitment to ending human rights abuses in the country and ordered the release of all prisoners detained without trial.

“Orders have already been given for all those detained without trial to be released,” he said during his official inauguration ceremony at the Independence Stadium in Bakau, a town 20km from the capital Banjul, on Saturday.

As a result, a total of 171 inmates in the tiny West African nation’s notorious 2 Mile Prison were set free. They were all detained without trial some time during former President Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year rule.

Jammeh’s tenure was marred by clampdowns on dissenting views, enforced disappearances and detention without trial, creating a climate of fear. Hundreds of people were jailed for their political views and thousands of others were forced to flee the country.

“This is a day of victory for Gambian politicians who for decades faced arrest and intimidation from the security services,” said Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque, reporting from the capital, Banjul.

“Among Gambia’s new cabinet are men and women that have spent time in the Mile 2 prison,” he said.

“Many politicians have either died in custody or gone missing after being taken to jail.”

Jammeh clung to power, creating a political crisis that forced Barrow to be inaugurated in January in Senegal, which surrounds Gambia except for its coast.

International pressure, including the threat of a regional military intervention, led Jammeh on January 21 to finally accept his election defeat and fly into exile in Equatorial Guinea.

@Al Jazera