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03-Oct-2016 02:25 by 7 Comments

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By holding the men in detention for more than three days without charging or releasing them, state forces are breaking the law according to Gambia's constitution.Three women were also arrested in Banjul on 13 November.

It was already a crime to be gay in Gambia: adults found to have had consensual same-sex relationships faced up to fourteen years in prison, until October 2014 - now it's a lifetime.An amendment to the country’s Criminal Code toughened existing laws punishing people for the 'crime' of homosexuality in Gambia and lengthened the criminal sentences for those found guilty.The Criminal Code (Amendment) Act 2014 introduced the new crime of ‘aggravated homosexuality’ for ‘serial offenders’ and gay or lesbian people who live with HIV – which comes with the punishment of a lifetime in prison.Four men plus one 17-year-old boy were arrested by the National Intelligence Agency and Presidential Guards in Banjul, the capital city, under investigation for crimes of homosexuality.They are being held in a secret location without access to a lawyer, and are at high risk of being tortured.The Bill was passed by Gambia’s parliament, the National Assembly, on 25 August.

Gambia's president, Yahya Jammeh, made the Bill law on 9 October. Since 7 November, state forces have launched a homosexuality investigation, leading to at least eight arrests.‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.For their full travel advice, visit uk/foreign-travel-advice.What’s more, its people are a kind and welcoming bunch, for which many know it as The Smiling Coast.Virtually enveloped by its much larger neighbour Senegal, a legacy of the colonial carve up of Africa, the shard of land comprising The Gambia still retains its own clear identity.Other men and women managed to escape the forces' interrogation as friends and relatives gave them advance warning that security forces would be targeting them.