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Podcast: 'In Chains' Episode 3

In the third episode of our new themed series In Chains, we speak with Dr. Alexis Aronowitz from University College Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands, who is the author of the article, “Regulating business involvement in labor exploitation and human trafficking” published in Journal of Labor and Society.

Brill Publishes Two New Book Series in the Social Sciences

Brill is pleased to announce the addition of two new peer-reviewed book series to its Social Sciences publishing program: International Studies in Maritime Sociology and Studies in Political Economy of Global Labor and Work. The series will be published online and in print.

Brill adds Two New Journals to Its Social Sciences Publishing Program

Two journals, the Journal of Labor and Society (JLSO) and Protest, have been added to Brill’s expanding publishing program in the Social Sciences. Both journals will be published online and in print. Previous volumes of JLSO are already available on Brill’s website, the first issues of Protest are planned for publication in 2021.


Acquisitions Editor


Jason Prevost

V&R unipress

Julia Schwanke


The year marked the tenth anniversary of the overthrow of Sir Dawda Jawara and his party, the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) – which had been ruling the country since independence in 1965 – in a bloodless military coup on 22 July 1994. The celebration of this anniversary took place in a climate of economic crisis and fear. Economic instability, frequent changes in the composition of government and the top echelons of the civil service, and restrictions on press freedom were the most striking features of economic and political life. Although the rate of inflation fell from nearly 18% at the end of 2003 to less than 10% by the end of 2004, the depreciation of the Dalasi, the Gambian currency, placed strains on family budgets, since salaries and other forms of income remained low.

The Gambia’s unexpected withdrawal from the Commonwealth on 2 October and its breaking of diplomatic ties with Taiwan on 12 November after 18 years of collaboration indicated the country’s growing isolation on the international scene. However, it still benefited from the support of international donors such as the EU and the World Bank, and hope was expressed about the potential for new cooperation with the People’s Republic of China. President Yaya Jammeh, re-elected in 2011 for a fourth term, came under close international scrutiny for serious human rights violations. Revelations by exiled members of the army, who had been personally involved in regime atrocities, shocked public opinion, both in the Gambia and in the diaspora.

Throughout the year, opposition media and diasporic civil organisations denounced President Jammeh’s repressive regime, but events showed that, despite increasing popular disaffection, his grip on the country remained strong. In the early hours of 30 December, the Presidential Guard rapidly countered an attack by a group of armed men on the Presidential Palace in the capital, Banjul. Repression of alleged dissidents and civilians started immediately after the foiled attack. The closure of the border with Senegal in the first part of the year had economic consequences for both the Gambia and the Casamance. The late beginning of the rainy season compromised crop production. Rising food prices and an annual inflation rate of 6.1% seriously reduced the spending power of Gambian households.

After the foiled coup of 30 December 2014, Yahya Jammeh’s government strengthened security measures. State repression affected members of the army, journalists, civil servants and the relatives and friends of the alleged plotters who had sought refuge abroad. A number of surprising political moves took place during the year, including sweeping electoral reforms, presidential pardons for over 250 detainees, the banning of female genital mutilation and Jammeh’s declaration of the Gambia as an Islamic republic. The country’s economic performance deteriorated and the level of public debt rose dramatically.

1 December 2016 was a watershed moment in the annals of Gambian political history. With an estimated turnout of more than 70% in a presidential election that was by all accounts deemed free and fair, Adama Barrow, an obscure and lesser-known candidate of the opposition caused a major upset, defeating Yahya Jammeh, the incumbent and long-serving president by 43.3% to 39.6 % of the votes cast. People ran into the streets in jubilation. After having initially recognised the elections as fair and just, on 9 December, Jammeh contested the results. Senegal urged ecowas, the au, and the un to take all necessary measures to protect the electoral decision and the sovereignty of the Gambian people.

The Gambia entered 2017 amidst uncertainties that overshadowed the political landscape following the 2016 elections. A week after the out-going President Yahya Jammeh had accepted the results and conceded defeat to President-elect Adama Barrow, he reneged on his concession, citing electoral irregularities. Jammeh was adamant, despite the condemnation of his actions by members of the international community and threats by ecowas that they would use all necessary means to enforce the mandate of the Gambian voters. This political deadlock put the country on the brink of generalised violence, resulting in massive population displacement, with 50,000 people estimated to have crossed into neighbouring Senegal. Diplomatic interventions, essentially by ecowas, which also deployed its regional forces to the Gambia, and the support of the au and the un helped calm the emerging political the crisis, and on 19 January Jammeh fled the country, making way for the new government.

Throughout the year, the political and security situation in the Gambia remained relatively peaceful, despite a growing political rift within the coalition government of president Adama Barrow, and a few isolated fatal skirmishes between civilians and security forces. With the coming of Barrow’s administration, the country witnessed many new bilateral relationships and the re-establishment of old ties. After 22 years of financial mismanagement and international isolation under the leadership of the now exiled former president Yahya Jammeh, the economic challenges of the country remained a key concern. Although the country realised some economic improvement, it remained saddled with a huge wage bill and debt burden.

The country was relatively peaceful during 2019 apart from a few incidences of social unrest motivated by citizens demonstrating against local government shortcomings or calling for justice against police brutality. On 15 June, President Adama Barrow announced that he would conclude his five-year constitutional mandate, thus stepping back from the 2016 electoral promise of a three-year transitional period. This move tarnished his popularity and destabilised the coalition government, already shaken by the sacking of vice president and leader of the United Democratic Party (udp), lawyer Ousainou Darboe, in March. By the end of the year, anti-government protests had given voice to popular disaffection with Barrow’s leadership and concern over the slow pace of the reforms expected from his government, starting with a reduction in security and military expenses.

President Adama Barrow’s reneging on his promise to relinquish office at the end of a three-year transitional mandate sparked the 16 December 2019 demonstration staged by the ‘Three Year Jotna’ (tyj) movement. Despite the ensuing protests in early 2020 over the president’s decision, the country remained characteristically calm. With the 2021 presidential election at hand, and the dissolution of the coalition that brought Adama Barrow to power, there were new arrangements to form future alliances. The outbreak of Covid-19 in March caused changes in the budgetary allocations approved by the House of Assembly (ha). Funds were channelled from low-priority areas to augment the health sector, while the Foreign Ministry played a pivotal role in coordinating foreign assistance and procuring materials to address the problems presented by Covid-19. Meanwhile, the people anxiously awaited the benefits that the post-Jammeh era had in store.

Talks of political alliances dominated the Gambian public space as the Independent Electoral Commission (iec) scaled up its preparation for the 4 December presidential election. President Adama Barrow’s launching of his National People’s Party (npp) ultimately severed his relationship with the United Democratic Party (udp) which brought him to political prominence. Notwithstanding the mushrooming of the number of parties, only six contested the election. The official release of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (trrc) report gave respite to some victims of human rights abuses during the high-handed Yahya Jammeh’s administration. Despite critical cries of corruption in high places, only one case was substantiated. The Freedom House corruption index rank was the same as that of 2020. During the period under review, the judiciary and the legislature were functional and law enforcement officers maintained order in isolated instances of breach of peace. A number of accredited diplomats presented letters of credence. On the whole, the country remained characteristically calm.