Gambian President Adama Barrow has announced a moratorium on the death penalty as the country rebuilds its international standing, said reports. Picture: Nicolas Asfouri/Pool Photo via AP

Johannesburg - Gambian President Adama Barrow has announced a moratorium on the death penalty as the West African country rebuilds its international standing following the removal last year of its long-time authoritarian ruler Yahya Jammeh, Reuters reported Monday.

According to Amnesty International, there are less death penalty cases being implemented on the continent, with 22 people executed in 2016 compared to 43 in 2015.

“I will use this opportunity to declare a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in The Gambia, as a first step towards abolition,” Barrow said in a speech on Sunday to mark the 53rd anniversary of the country’s independence from Great Britain.

After losing bid for a second term in office, Jammeh fled the country last year. International criticism slammed his brutal rule, including his execution of nine prisoners by firing squad in 2012.

In addition to cleaning up the mess left by his predecessor, Barrow has tried to rehabilitate Gambia’s reputation marked by human rights abuses and spats with foreign governments.

Earlier this month, Gambia rejoined the Commonwealth, which Jammeh withdrew from in 2013, calling it a “neo-colonial institution”.

African News Agency/ANA