Bar members urged to accept appointment as Superior Courts judges

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Hassan B. Jallow, Chief Justice of The Gambia, has called on senior members of the Gambia Bar Association to accept appointment as judges of the Supreme Court of The Gambia.

He was addressing members of the Judiciary and the Gambia Bar Association, at a ceremony held yesterday at the High Court complex in Banjul, which brought together the country’s new Chief Justice and members of the legal fraternity.

The Court of Appeal and the high courts are operating “below their full capacity”, and there is a serious backlog of cases, while new cases are coming in, he announced.

“This is hard and frustrating for litigants, and it is bad for the machinery of justice,” the new CJ said, adding that the solution lies partly with the members of the Bar.

The members of the Gambia Bar must take greater responsibility now for the machinery of justice, he added.

“Those members of the Bar, who are in all respects suitable for appointment as judges of the superior courts, must now be ready to make the necessary sacrifices in the interest of the nation and come forward to take their position.”

He continued: “We must work together, both the bench and the bar and all others, to restore the courts to their full capacity, efficiency and reputation.”

“The Gambia Bar, one of the old professional bodies in this country, is well pleased to contribute significantly to that process, but only if its members remember, above all else, they are officers of this temple of justice bound to defend its independence and impartiality and to promote its efficiency.”

Chief Justice Jallow said they should not turn the judicial process into a journey of delay, frustration for the litigants, but one of truth and justice delivered within a reasonable time, avoiding all unnecessary delay.

“They should conduct themselves, at all times, in accordance with the highest professional standards of this noble profession.

“They are not only observers and bystanders in the face of the great currents at this time of national transition. The rule of law being not only a matter of process, but also of substance, the fairness of much of our legislations will need to be assessed and, if needed, be improved upon.”

He also said the review of the current constitution might need to be carried out, with a view to establishing a more secure framework for good government.

“We will, as a community, need to make some difficult choices, decisions about truth, reconciliation, forgiveness, justice and about accountability in respect of alleged past abuses.

“The bar is uniquely placed by virtue of its training, vocation, commitment to assist our people to understand the issues, and to make the choices that are best suited for the peace and progress of The Gambia.”

In court and out of court, therefore, the Chief Justice went on, the time and talents of the bar would be very much in demand, in the service of the community.

“I am confident that the members of the Gambia Bar will rise to the occasion,” he concluded.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Aboubacarr Tambadou, whose speech was read by the Deputy Solicitor General, said the expectations of the new Government include a pre-occupation to accentuate to reinforce greater constitutional democracy, which underscore parallel institutional reform and benchmarks that guarantee a non-occurrence of lawlessness, arbitrariness, and repressive government and laws.

Rachel Y. Mendy, the president of the Gambia Bar Association, said: “We know that there are lots of changes to be done in the Judiciary, and we will work with you to achieve that in the earliest possible time.”

Author: Halimatou Ceesay
Source: Picture: Chief Justice Hassan B. Allow