The Gambia is a multiparty democratic republic. In December President Adama Barrow won reelection with 53 percent of the vote. International and domestic election observers determined the elections to be free, fair, transparent, and peaceful, despite widespread but minor administrative problems. International and domestic observers considered the 2017 National Assembly elections to be mostly free and fair.
The Gambia Police Force maintains internal security and reports to the Ministry of Interior. The Gambia Armed Forces consist of four branches: the Gambia National Army, the Gambia Navy, the Republican National Guard, and the Gambia Air Force. The Gambia Armed Forces’ principal responsibilities include aiding civil authorities in emergencies and providing natural disaster relief. The chief of the defense staff administers the Gambia Armed Forces and reports through the minister of defense to the president as commander in chief. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. There were credible reports that members of the security forces committed some abuses.
Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by government or on behalf of government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence, including but not limited to domestic and intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child, early, and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation and other harmful practices; trafficking in persons; existence of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults, although the law was rarely enforced; and the existence of the worst forms of child labor.
The government took steps to investigate, prosecute, or otherwise hold accountable some officials who committed abuses or engaged in corruption. Nevertheless, impunity and a lack of consistent enforcement continued to occur.