WHAT IS GENERAL AMNESTY? BEFORE THE PRAISES WHAT THE PRESIDENT MEANS MUST BE UNDERSTOOD

It is mandatory under the constitution that “there shall be a
Committee on the exercise of the prerogative of mercy consisting of
the Attorney General and three other persons appointed by thepresident subject to confirmation by the National Assembly.”
Once a person is convicted and sentenced the president has powers,
after consultation with the committee, to grant to any person
convicted of any offence a pardon either free or subject to lawful
condition, grant to any person a respite or substitute a less severe
form of punishment for any punishment imposed on any person for any
offence or remit the whole or any part of any punishment.
Foroyaa is of the view that the president should have made the 50th
Anniversary meaningful by freeing prisoners who one way or the other
are convicted for offences related to sedition or treason. In short,
what would the President lose by releasing prisoners who deserve
respite?
Secondly, there are many Gambians abroad who are not charged with any
crime but have fears that if they come home they would be persecuted
or prosecuted for what they had said or done. Did the president say
anything to negate such fears?
A summary of what the President said is as follows: “Some of them I
will not forgive for obvious reasons, a few of them. The rest are free
to come home. They do not necessarily need to come home and support me.
That is their business.
Anybody who wants to use any means, to come in and destroy the country
I will destroy you. Those who want to come and say he has pardon us, now
we are free and wants to destabilise this country, I will wipe them
out. So if anybody wants the peace of this country and to contribute
to its development you are welcome.”
Even though, the president did not specify who he is referring to as
the unpardonable few, the fact that the discourse has started on the
issue of not placing restriction on the freedom of movement of
Gambians in and out of the country, should motivate the ECOWAS, the AU
and the UN to send envoys and issue Press statements on the concrete
position of the government. There are many crimes like Sedition which
requires the fiat or permission of the Attorney general before an
accused could be prosecuted.
Unless a Cabinet White Paper is issued naming the few whose actions
are unpardonable or the actions which are unpardonable and
establishing the terms for safe return of those who risk prosecution
Gambians who have fears cannot be certain of safe return. We hope a
Cabinet White would be issued to clarify matters.