(JollofNews) – The US on Thursday announced it has sanctioned former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh under a 2016 human rights law.
A press release from the Treasury Department notes the Trump administration has used the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act that former President Obama signed in 2016 to freeze the assets of Jammeh and a dozen other “serious human rights abusers and corrupt actors.”
President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order “declaring a national emergency with respect to serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world and providing for the imposition of sanctions on actors engaged in these malign activities.” The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also sanctioned “39 affiliated individuals and entities” under the directive.
“Today, alongside the president and the Department of the Treasury, the Department of State took action against persons who have committed serious human rights abuse and engaged in corruption around the world,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a statement. “The department is committed to protecting and promoting human rights and combatting corruption with all of the tools at our disposal.”
“Today’s actions advance our values and promote the security of the United States, our allies, and our partners,” he added. “We must lead by example, and today’s announcement of sanctions demonstrates the United States will continue to pursue tangible and significant consequences for those who commit serious human rights abuse and engage in corruption.”
Jammeh came to power during a 1994 coup.
He stepped down in January after he lost to current President Adama Barrow in the country’s 2016 presidential election. Jammeh is currently in exile in Equatorial Guinea.
A report that Human Rights Watch released in 2015 notes police and officials with Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency “promptly rounded up” dozens of people “on suspicion of their sexual orientation” after Jammeh signed a law that sought to impose a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality.”
Jammeh in 2015 said he would slit the throats of gay men in his country. He has also described gay men as “vermin” and said homosexuality is among the three “biggest threats to human existence.”
The Gambian government in 2014 stopped providing financial support to Jammeh’s nephew, Alagie Jammeh, who was studying at the University of California, Santa Barbara, at the time, because he posted a pro-LGBT message to his Facebook page. Alagie Jammeh received asylum in the U.S.in 2016.
The Treasury Department’s press release does not specifically refer to Jammeh’s anti-LGBT rights abuses, but it does note he “has a long history of engaging in serious human rights abuses and corruption.” The U.S. on Thursday also used the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to sanction former Gambian National Intelligence Agency Director General Yankuba Badjie.