Gambia dropped from U.S. trade program

GambiaOn Dec 24, 2014 Washington Blade reported: The Obama administration on Tuesday announced Gambia is no longer eligible to take part in a duty-free trade program amid growing concerns over the country’s LGBT crackdown and other human rights abuses.

Reuters reported the U.S. will also drop South Sudan from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a law then-President Bill Clinton signed in 2000 that allows sub-Saharan African countries to access U.S. markets. The news agency said the Obama administration will allow Guinea-Bissau to rejoin the program.

The changes take effect on Jan. 1.

Ned Price, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, noted to the Washington Blade late on Tuesday that Gambian President Yahya Jammeh in October signed a law under which those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality” face life in prison.

Reuters earlier this week reported Gambian authorities recently arrested three men they said engaged in same-sex sexual relations. It appears the White House had already decided to drop Gambia from the African Growth and Opportunity Act when the aforementioned report emerged.

“The U.S. Trade Representative has been monitoring the human rights situation in the Gambia for the past few years, with deepening concerns about the lack of progress with respect to human rights, rule of law, political pluralism, and the right to due process,” said Price.

“Reports have surfaced of arrests, detention and torture of individuals because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” he added.

Jammeh described gay men as ‘vermin’ in speech

Gambia is a small, predominantly Muslim West African country nestled between Senegal along the Gambian River.

Jammeh came to power in a 1994 military coup.

He said during a 2013 speech at the U.N. General Assembly that homosexuality is among the three “biggest threats to human existence.” Jammeh earlier this year described gay men as “vermin” during a speech that commemorated Gambia’s independence from the U.K.

Continued at Gambia dropped from U.S. trade program.

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