Repression intensifies as elections approach
During Ramadan, the government prohibited any public ceremony or festivity involving music, dancing or drumming. On 13th June, 2016 the police spokesperson Lamin Njie stated that Gambians who failed to respect this measure would be arrested and afforded no leeway. He added that security forces were inviting people to publicly denounce anyone who infringed this prohibition. The ban follows President Jammeh's declaration in December 2015 that Gambia had become an Islamic republic.
As elections approach at the end of 2016, authorities are clamping down on free speech in the Gambia. Concerns have been raised by the United Nations and Amnesty International about the spate of arrests, beatings and the silencing of journalists and civil society in the run up to the polls. President Jammeh responded with fiery rhetoric to this international condemnation, stating that it was quite common for people to die in detention or during interrogation and that, as a result, it was not necessary to open an investigation into the death in custody of political activist Solo Sandeng.