Gambia pledges to abolish death penalty

The Gambia has pledged to abolish the death penalty in a clean break with the former regime of Yahya Jammeh, giving activists hope that more African states will follow its example.

President Adama Barrow, elected in December 2016, signed a UN treaty on the abolition of capital punishment following his maiden speech at the world body’s general assembly, the government said in a press release Thursday.

“By signing the treaties, the new Gambia continues to promote democracy and show the commitment of the state to protect lives of political activists,” the statement said, referring to four other treaty pledges on issues including forced disappearances.

Jammeh, who ruled the country with an iron fist for 22 years until being forced from power after losing to Barrow, executed nine soldiers in 2012 and threatened to expand a list of capital crimes in 2015 in response to what he said was a rising crime rate.

Francophone west African nations such as Benin, Congo Republic and Guinea have all made steps to ending the death penalty in recent years.

But English-speaking countries in the region are lagging.

“This is a positive step forward for Gambia when just five years ago people on death row were tragically executed and abolition seemed a pipe dream. We hope Gambia will lead the way, as no Anglophone country in West Africa has yet abolished the death penalty,” said Amnesty International West Africa researcher Sabrina Mahtani.

Although the UN has welcomed the Gambian pledge, the numbers executed in the country’s once-notorious prisons are dwarfed by those who were forcibly disappeared, a figure that runs into the dozens, according to the authorities.

The government statement claimed the move — which must still be ratified — “will remove fear and promote rule of law for citizens to express their civil and political rights.”

The treaty — formally named the “Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty” — has been ratified by 85 member states of the UN so far.






Fury over Zambian journalist’s death in childbirth


Sithembile Zulu

The ministry of health in Zambia is investigating the death of a 29-year-old journalist who died in childbirth.

News of Sithembile Zulu’s death has led to a public outcry, with fellow journalists highlighting the issue of maternal deaths.

Africa accounts for nearly two thirds of global maternal deaths according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

While Zambia has a better ranking than most African countries, it is still the case that 224 mothers die for every 100,000 live births.

Ministry of Health Spokesperson Dr Maximilian Bweupe has said that Ms Zulu underwent a caesarian section due to foetal distress, a condition where the foetus does not receive sufficient oxygen during pregnancy or labour.

According to the ministry press statement, Ms Zulu became breathless after taking a bath and her condition rapidly deteriorated.




Dog mauls owner to death in front of BBC TV crew after taking cocaine

A dog mauled its owner to death after eating crack cocaine.

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier named Major was the equivalent of eight times the human drug drive limit when he latched onto Mario Perivoitos’s face and neck moments after his owner took part in a BBC documentary.

Mario, 41, had been filming with a camera crew for the BBC programme Drugs Map Britain when he fell into an epileptic fit and was attacked on his bed.

Nicholas Carmichael, an expert in veterinary toxicology, revealed that samples of cocaine and morphine had been discovered in Major’s urine.

The exact reading and measurement of cocaine was not stated but Mr Carmichael said:
“It is very likely that this dog had consumed drugs, probably eaten them.
“They become very excited and agitated, it is highly more likely that this attack happened because this dog had taken cocaine.”In my experience with Staffordshire Bull Terriers if they think they are in a dominant position its response must have been to attack.”

He added:
“The dog was eight times the drug drive limit.
“The dog had clearly taken it and, whether it had eaten it or taken it in by smoke, it is likely to have been a factor in the dog’s behaviour.”In his conclusion he said: “Mr Perivoitos was taking part in a documentary about illegal drugs, having returned to his home at 10.17pm consumed a quantity of cocaine before becoming unwell.
“It is likely that he was experiencing an epileptic shock which caused the dog to nip his face before biting his neck.
“The film crew telephoned an ambulance whilst attempting to get the dog off Mr Perivoitos.
“It is likely that the dog had consumed cocaine by eating it and it is likely that this was an additional factor in the dog’s behaviour.”Mr Perivoitos suffered serious injuries and was taken to a major trauma hospital and died shortly after midnight.”

Detective chief inspector Luke Marks, who brought no criminal charges in the case, told the court that Major was due to be destroyed.

He said: “The dog was taken to a secure police storage facility, it was due to be destroyed but I do not know if it has been.”




Taliban stones man to death for adultery in Afghanistan

Taliban militants have stoned to death a man on charges of having extra-marital relations with a woman in Afghanistan’s Badakshan province, a local official said Monday.

“The incident took place in a Taliban controlled area of Raghistan district on Sunday morning,” district governor Mawlavi Ghulamullah told Xinhua.

However, he couldn’t provide more details on the situation and the fate of the accused woman.
Taliban militants often impose harsh punishments, including public execution, to alleged criminals in areas they controlled.
The hardliner group have not commented on this latest incident.

Heavily pregnant woman is ‘stabbed to death in satanic ritual

A heavily pregnant woman was stabbed to death and burnt to ashes in a suspected satanic ritual, police say. Fernanda Pereyra, 26, was barbarically killed before her body was burnt in a fire so hot she could only be identified by her necklace.

Her ashes were found in an Argentinian wasteland on kilometre six of Route Six near the town of Rincon de los Sauces.

Investigators think the three sixes were chosen on purpose to represent the number 666, named in the Book of Revelation as the “number of the beast”.

The killers reportedly used a large amount of petrol to burn her body and then transported it in a Renault Kangoo van.

When recovered, the van appeared to have been cleaned, but traces of blood and hair from the victim – who was six months pregnant – remained, according to prosecutors.

Police have arrested three people her former boyfriend Luciano Hernandez and his two friends Osvaldo Castillo and Diego Marillan in connection with the murder.

The suspects have also been linked with drug trafficking and are thought to practice Satanism and unidentified African religions.

A suspect’s house contained “Satanic” music and images featuring tridents and women in flames.

San La Muerte (Saint Death), the patron saint of drug traffickers, and “Destranca Rua”, an entity linked with the Angolan “kimbanda” religion featured in the alleged ritual, according to police.

Police also found a sheep in the courtyard of one of their properties.

Coppers say the victim’s boyfriend slaughtered her because she got pregnant by another man.

Diddy responds to allegations that Biggie Smalls played a part in Tupac’s death

Diddy has opened up about the death of his dear friend Biggie and how Tupac’s shooting death impacted the hip-hop community.

In a new interview with Willie Geist for Sunday TODAY, the music mogul revealed that when Tupac died on September 13, 1996 (only six months prior to Biggie’s own passing), “it really resonated that things are really dangerous.”


There were allegations that Biggie played a part in Tupac’s murder, but he denied such claims and the Wallace family has provided an alleged alibi. The late rappers publicly feuded for years, but Diddy says he didn’t pay much attention to their bad blood.
“There were so many rumors and things for years that I was more concerned with the well being of my artists, myself and my family,” he explained.

On March 9, 1997, an unidentified assailant shot and killed Biggie in Los Angeles.

How would the rap game have changed if Biggie were still alive today? Diddy told Geist that he thinks about it all the time. “What direction would rap go into?” Diddy asked rhetorically, also mentioning that he often wonders, “How would this concert be if he was here?”

A lot of questions swirl around Diddy’s mind but one thing is for sure: “It’s incomplete without him being there.”