Barrow renews commitment to judicial independence

Monday, February 04, 2019

President Barrow disclosed that his government is committed to ensure judicial independence, adding that his government is committed to non-interference with the judiciary.

He expressed heartfelt condolence for the demise of Justice Buba Jawo whilst pointing out that since he came to office, no judicial officers have been summarily dismissed.

The president was speaking at the official opening of the 2019 Legal Year at the Law Courts Complex, Independence Drive, Banjul on Sunday.

He said yesterday was his first official engagement with the judiciary and paid tribute to the gallant men and women of the legal fraternity who left their mark in the history of The Gambia, citing the position they took during the 2016 political impasse.

President Barrow said after many years of maladministration in the erstwhile Jammeh regime, his government has taken strides to ensure that there is good governance.

He further said his government aims to restore public confidence in the judiciary, strengthen democratic public institutions and restore good governance amongst others.

He averred that his government has established the Constitutional Review Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Prisons Reform Commission, Criminal Code Reform, and the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), which is aimed at promoting reconciliation and truth amongst others.

He revealed that his government is making great efforts to establish courts in every nook and cranny of the country so as make assessment to courts.

He congratulated all members of the legal profession for the achievement realised since he assumed office.

Chief Justice, Hassan B. Jallow welcome all to the 2019 Legal Year, pointing out that this year’s celebration was not only a matter of pomp and ceremony.

He disclosed that this year’s legal celebration was an occasion for stocktaking and for reflection on the achievements of and challenges facing the judicature and the machinery of justice so as to enable the judicature identifies appropriate strategies to meet those challenges.

He further disclosed that with the change of administration, efforts at reconstruction of the judiciary have been guided by three key aspects of the institution’s mission: Judicial independence, Judicial Impartiality and Judicial Efficiency.

He revealed that there has been some significant progress in strengthening the capacity of the judiciary in terms of human resources, infrastructure, equipment and training to more effectively discharge its core mandate of adjudication.

He recalled that 2017 started off without a Supreme Court for the Gambia noting that prior to that the court had not sat and at best times it held two sessions of two weeks each per annum.

Chief Justice Hassan Jallow stated that the Supreme Court has been fully reconstituted with four Gambian justices in the persons of Justice Samega Janneh, Justice Sock, Justice Sulayman Jallow and Justice Mam Yassin Sey joining them for the first time to constitute a full Gambian Bench of the court.

He said the Supreme Court is now able to sit with a full complement of local judges, and to sit more frequently.

He pointed out that The Gambia Court of Appeal has also seen a full Gambianisation of its complement of seven judges with Justice M’bai, Justice Njie, Justice Salla-Wadda, Justice Roche, Justice Mahoney and Justice Sillah-Camara under the presidency of Justice Awa Bah.

He said the judiciary continue to face serious challenges with the filling the vacancies for judges in the High Court, adding that judiciary requires more court rooms and office space for optional functioning of the courts with a new Supreme Court and Court of Appeal complex.

Chief Justice Hassan Jallow stated that much public investment has been made by Barrow government in the judiciary; much more is required in the judiciary than in the past in consonance with the topmost priority given to good governance in the National Development Plan..

In his address, Abubacar Tambadou, the Justice minister disclosed that The Gambia has improved its ranking in 2018 annual press freedom index scoring 122 out of 180 countries compared to 145 in 2016 and 143 in 2017.

He further disclosed that the Justice Ministry has commenced the review of all media laws to ensure consistency with “our Constitutional obligations and to facilitate the exercise of the right to freedom of expression.”

He said his ministry will be conducting a comprehensive review of the criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code as part of the sanitisation of our criminal justice system.

He stated that arbitrary arrests have reduced significantly and detention without trial no longer obtains.

He pointed out that his ministry is at the final stage of reviewing the Anti-Corruption legislation to replace the Anti-Corruption Act 2012 which was heavily watered down by the Jammeh administration.

Author: Bruce Asemota
Source: Picture: President Barrow