The Gambia’s constitution enumerates a full range of provisions and assurances for a multiparty democratic republic. Human rights organizations and opposition parties, however, claimed the government repeatedly took steps to restrict the democratic space. In 2011 voters reelected President Yahya Jammeh to a fourth term in a peaceful, orderly election; however, international observers considered it neither free nor fair. President Jammeh’s party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), continued to dominate the political landscape.
Civilian authorities at times did not maintain effective control over the security forces. The regime responded with excessive force to peaceful public protests on April 14, April 16, and May 9. More than 70 supporters of the United Democratic Party (UDP) were arrested; several were beaten and tortured during the three protests.
The most serious human rights abuses reported in 2016 included torture, arbitrary arrest, and prolonged pretrial and incommunicado detention; enforced disappearances of citizens; and government harassment and abuse of its critics. Officials routinely used various methods of intimidation to retain power.
Other reported human rights abuses included a corrupt and inefficient judiciary; poor prison conditions; denial of due process; restrictions on privacy and freedoms of speech, press, and assembly; corruption; violence against women and girls, including female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); early and forced marriage; trafficking in persons, including child prostitution; discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals; and child labor.
The government enacted laws banning FGM/C and early and forced marriage and took steps to prosecute or punish some individuals who committed abuses. Nevertheless, impunity and the lack of consistent enforcement remained problems.