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Banjul, Gambia -
Gambia has defended the execution of nine death-row prisoners amid a chorus of condemnation led by the United Nations.
Ministers met late on Thursday with western representatives, stressing that the executions were in line with the country's laws, the presidency said in a statement.
“Every sovereign state has its own national laws, which may be different from other countries, and in the case of the Gambia, the sentences that were handed out were in due compliance with the laws of the country,” the statement said.
The “delegates” from the European Union, the United States and Britain were told that “no judicial system in the world is perfect, including in their own countries”, the statement added.
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said earlier on Thursday that Gambia's execution of the nine prisoners was a setback for human rights.
One man and a woman who were executed were Senegalese, and Senegal's President Macky Sall said he “deeply regrets” the killings.
Another 38 convicts face the firing squad in coming weeks after Gambian President Yahya Jammeh ordered the execution of the nine and pledged to carry out all the sentences by mid-September.
Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she was appalled by the executions.
“The Gambia has, for almost three decades, been one of the increasing number of states that did not practise capital punishment Ä until this sudden, grave, unfortunate change of course,” she said in a statement.
Amnesty has said many on death row were tried on “politically motivated charges and subjected to torture and other ill-treatment to force confessions”. - Sapa-AFP