Since seizing power in a 1994 military coup, President Yahya Jammeh has made Gambia one of the most repressive countries in all of Africa. In two decades of Jammeh’s rule, state-sanctioned torture, enforced disappearances, murders and arbitrary executions, and routine denials of other basic human rights have become commonplace.
On December 30, 2014, a failed coup attempt further emboldened the brutal Jammeh regime. And since then, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights has verified that at least 27 individuals—mainly family members and alleged associates of the insurgents—have been detained without charge, all of them for more than 72 hours, which is prohibited by Gambia’s constitution.
The following report provides an overview of the widespread repression and egregious human rights violations committed in Gambia, with a particular emphasis on the past several years as President Jammeh’s message to Gambian citizens has become unequivocal: there is no room for dissent, nor will criticizing or otherwise questioning the absolute authority of the president be tolerated.