U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the Senior Democrat on the House Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement after a successful, in-person appeal by Rev. Jesse Jackson to President Dr. Alhaji Yahya Jammeh of Gambia for the release of two American citizens, Amadou Scattred Janneh and Tamsir Jasseh who were serving a life and 20 year sentences, respectively, for treason. Rev. Jackson was also instrumental in urging President Jammeh to extend indefinitely a moratorium on the death penalty and execution of 38 death row prisoners.
In August, nine prisoners on Gambia's death row were executed by a firing squad prior to the exhaustion of their legal appeals, and in September President Jammeh announced that the remaining 37 death row inmates would be executed by the end of the month in order to send a message to Gambians that violent crimes would not be tolerated in the country. After outcry from the international community, Rev. Jackson began working with the Gambian government to discuss the reversal of this decision. This visit has been credited as the impetus for President Jammeh's decision that further executions would be suspended indefinitely.
"I'd like to offer my sincere thanks and gratitude to Rev. Jesse Jackson for his extraordinary efforts to free two Americans from harsh imprisonment in Gambia, allowing them to return home to the U.S. to be with their loved ones. Rev. Jackson has a history of serving as an international diplomat in sensitive situations like this one, including the release of Navy Lieutenant Robert Goodman from Syria and 48 Cuban and Cuban-American prisoners from Cuba. Rev. Jackson's leadership has been invaluable in this situation and I commend his foresight to assure these American citizens are able to be in the safety of their homes with the people they love most."