European Union member governments have prepared a statement in response to the President of Gambia’s recent threats to gay people.
Graham Birse, the acting British high commissioner has said that EU states, under the Slovenian Presidency, are in discussion with the Gambian ministry of foreign affairs.
A government representative told IRIN “we decided we should come up with a common message and we are all aligned with it.
“Obviously we don’t agree with the President’s statements.” they added.
Last month it was reported that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh turned on homosexuals and foreigners in an address at a victory celebration rally in Tallinding.
The Daily Observer said the President had issued:
“An ultimatum to homosexuals, drug dealers, thieves and other criminals, to leave the Gambia or face serious consequences if caught.”
Government officials have denied he made any threatening comments.
President Jammeh has in the past claimed that he can cure HIV/AIDS.
Scott Long, Executive Director of the LGBT programme in the Human Rights Watch, told IRIN that the strongest leverage international organisations have is “to shame and embarrass the president.”
HRW reported that President Jammeh retracted his threat to kill gay and lesbian people, but has not the threat to expel them from the country.
“We are monitoring situation through contacts in-country to keep track of what the police and others are doing as a result of the statements, and we’re waiting to see the government’s next move.” Long told IRIN.
“If you can attack even these most marginalised people, it could set a precedent for attacking wider human rights.”
Gambia is a mostly Muslim nation of 1.7 million people, which punishes homosexual acts, even in private, with up to seven years in prison.