Colin Crorkin, UK Ambassador to The Gambia.
Colin Crorkin, British High Commissioner to Banjul

(JollofNews) – The British envoy to the Gambia Tuesday condemned the “severe sentences” given to members of main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP).

Opposition Leader Ousainou Darboe and 18 of his supporters were last Wednesday sentenced to 3 years in prison by a high court judge in Banjul for taking part in a street protest in April to demand answers over the death in custody of the party’s organising secretary, Solo Sandeng.

Mr Sandeng had led a protest which ended with Gambian security forces beating and arresting dozens for making a public call for electoral reform and the resignation of President Yahya Jammeh.

Lawyer Darboe and his supporters being led away in handcuffs
Lawyer Darboe and his supporters being led away in handcuffs

Reacting to the verdict, Colin Crorkin, British High Commissioner to the west African country said his government is concerned by the severity of the sentences.

“These sentences are disproportionate and not in line with internationally acceptable human rights standards.” He wrote on his embassy’s official website,

The Gambia is headed by President Yahya Jammeh, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1994 and has made headlines for eccentric proclamations, including a claim to have invented a cure for HIV/AIDS.

The former military man, who once told a reporter he could lead The Gambia for “a billion years,” is expected to extend his rule in elections in December.