The article I have chosen for this project was written on the 25th of August of this year by the CNN staff. This is an informative article on a recent action taken by the president of a small nation in Africa called Gambia, to enforce capital punishment. The president, Yahya Jammeh, ascended to power in 1994 through a military coup, and was elected president two years after the fact. According to the article he has won support from his people by building infrastructure, schools and hospitals, which are much needed in his nation. According to Amnesty International, that seems to be the source for the CNN report, with intent to clear the death row, President Jammeh’s administration had nine inmates executed on the same day. This action was the first in his goal to have all inmates on the death row executed by the middle of September this year. Apparently, Gambia had 42 prisoners who had been sentenced to death and were awaiting their end on the death row, with other three men having received the death sentence this year.
Gambia had last used capital punishment nearly thirty years ago and Amnesty International has called its action a step backwards in morality, and condemned the act. The charges laid against three of the executed were treason, and among the nine there were two Senegalese nationals and one woman. Crimes for which one may be executed in Gambia include â€œmurder, treason and since 2010, possession of more than 250 grams of heroin or cocaineâ€ (paragraph 10); although it is not clear whether the latter law is still in effect. The president is quoted to have said that he was taking this drastic action in order to ensure that the measure of punishment prescribed by the law for crimes committed was carried out so that criminals â€œget what they deserveâ€ (paragraph 9).
The article is a well written and informative piece on a social and human rights’ issue that affects the global society. The writer does not make his own opinion known, nor is there a specific bias in the article. However, in writing the article from the source’s (Amnesty International’s) point of view, the tone of the article is one of strong criticism against the Gambian president and the action he took in executing nine prisoners. The reader does not get a full picture of the real situation in Gambia that prompted the president to take such measures, as there are no sources quoted from the office of president. Therefore, the opinion of the article is one-sided.
The sociologic perspective theory that could be applied to this article is the Conflict Theory, which emphasizes the role of coercion and power to maintain social order. The writer of this article did not neglect to mention that in some African states execution for treason is used to suppress rebellion or dissent. One could attribute the president’s sudden action to his attempts to instill fear into his people and maintain order by discouraging other citizens or residents of his nation from committing crimes, small or great. Also, the fact that the current administration in Gambia has been successful in gaining support from the people by building schools and hospitals could be likened to the same mentality behind the conflict theory that the elite or powerful force is a decisive social order on the poor and weak in society by controlling the resources available.
Another issue would be the possibility that the Gambian government, or mainly the president, is using capital punishment, and hence the law, as a tool to preserve his own advantages. Execution as a punishment used for a crime like treason in many nations is a tool to quell rebellion, and it is a testament to the fact. Prediction of the conflict theory regarding this particular situation in Gambia would be that people may become outraged and press for change of this law that condones capital punishment, and with it, a possible change in their leadership. It is possible that people of the Gambian nation may challenge the status quo, even if it means a possible revolution.