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Carter Center News Release: Correction of President Carter's Comments on The Gambia


Deborah Hakes 404-420-5124

The Carter Center regrets The Daily Observer's selective citation of a private letter from former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to President Yahya Jammeh, giving readers the false impression that President Carter supports President Jammeh and his policies. 

President Carter, as a private individual who supports grass roots human rights defenders throughout the world, often will communicate his concerns about specific human rights violations in confidential letters to Heads of State.  On occasion, this can allow for a respectful exchange and exploration of remedies.  The Carter Center does not release these letters.  In this case, a pro-government newspaper came into possession of one such letter and chose to reprint the single favorable sentence in which President Carter congratulated President Jammeh for hosting the recent African Union summit.   

If The Daily Observer had accurately reported the full content of the July 24 letter, the Gambian public would have learned of President Carter's concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation in their country.  In particular, President Carter asked President Jammeh to help ensure the fair trial or release of Ms. Mariam Denton, a human rights lawyer and Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience who was arrested in April 2006 and had been held for months without charge before being released.  We were encouraged to learn that the government does not apparently intend to pursue any charges against her and hope this begins a clear shift in government policy that will now allow human rights defenders to work without fear of reprisals.      

Ten years ago, The Carter Center issued a public statement, expressing concern that "human rights abuses [are casting] a pall over the political process."  At that time, the Center called on the Jammeh-led government to take steps to protect human rights and promote peace and good elections.  With elections due next month, it is with regret that we feel it necessary to repeat this concern.  


The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 65 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production. Please visit to learn more about The Carter Center.

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