Enact legislation to incorporate international law obligations

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow has said that a legislation be enacted to incorporate international law obligations undertaking by the country and Section seven (7) of the 1997 Constitution does not include international law as part of the sources of law in the country.

The chief justice made this disclosure yesterday during the opening of a two-day refresher session for superior courts judges in The Gambia at Coco Ocean Spa and Resort organised by the Institute for Human Right Development in Africa (IHRDA) in collaboration with the Gambian Judicial Training Institute.

The two day session seeks to strengthen the capacity of the Gambian Judiciary and to raise awareness of the judicial officials to some of the international and regional human rights conventions and treaties.

Furthermore, the session will also seek to raise awareness of the judges to the Gambia’s obligations in upholding and respecting its international human rights obligations as well as the application of international human rights law in our domestic settings.

The Chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow thanked IHRDA for organising the refresher session for judges noting that the session would help in building the capacity of judicial officers.

He disclosed that the Universal Human Right Declaration is now recognized as international law, adding that it is important for the Judiciary to apply the principles of international law in the domestic settings.

The chief judge said international law has its mandate and has expanded a lot as there are so many treaties, resolutions amongst others.

He noted that some of the challenges faced in the application of international law are theoretical, adding that there are various ways of incorporating international laws into the domestic legal system.

The chief judge also said natural justice is a fluid subject, noting that a judge can apply it if the existing law is consistent with the international laws.

He said for any rule of the international law to be applicable, it must be legislated by the National Assembly, however, cited the case of Ousman Sabally as an instance where the Supreme Court of The Gambia relied on the international law set out in African Charter.

In her opening remarks, IHRDA  board chairperson, Justice Naa Ceesay Sallah Wadda disclosed that the refresher course for judges falls within the mandate and framework of the IHRDA’s resolve to contribute its quota in the strengthening the capacity of the Gambian Judiciary.

She recalled that a similar forum with the same purpose and focus was recently organised and held for about 30 magistrates from across the country.

She stressed that the importance of the Gambia’s international human rights obligations and the application of international law within The Gambia’s domestic settings cannot be over emphasised.

“It is at this crucial stage where we as judges have an important role to play in the interpretation and application of relevant international and regional conventions and treaties and thus the importance of this refresher course for all” the Court of Appeal Judge said.

She noted that The Gambia has done relatively well comparatively in having very progressive laws that are as a result of The Gambia ratifying and domesticating key international and regional treaties.

Some of which she averred include the Children’s Act 2005, the women’s Act 2010, the Amendment to the Women’s Act, contained in Act No 11 of 2015 prohibiting Female Genital Mutilation amongst others.

She pointed out that despite the significant strides achieved, there is still a big challenge in the use of these treaties and laws in The Gambia Courts in terms of the enforcement of human rights that the Gambia has domesticated.

“This is where we as judges have a very crucial role to play in addressing these shortcomings “she noted.

The introductory remark was made by the executive director of IHRDA, Barrister Gaye Sowe.

Source: Picture:Chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow