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Chief Justice Addresses Legal Fraternity

Oct 6, 2009, 6:00 AM | Article By: Modou Sanyang

The Gambia's Chief Justice Emmanuel Akomaye Agim on 5th October 2009 addressed both members of the bench and bar, marking the beginning of another legal year.

According to him, the formal ceremony of the commencement of this new legal year shall take place sometimes in November 2009, in accordance with our established practice and custom.

He said since the superior courts will fully commence justice delivery services before then, he has considered it important as members of the legal profession to reflect on the activities of the past year, remind each other of their responsibilities for the new year and the principles that guide the manner they discharge those responsibilities.

"I will seize the opportunity of this gathering to inform you of the actions we have taken since I assumed office as Chief Justice and the actions I plan to take this new year to achieve the policy goals and objectives of the government contained in its legal sector strategy for 1997-2011 on effective and efficient justice delivery in The Gambia.

The Judiciary, he added, is faced with lots of problems like delay in court processes and resulting backlog of cases, lack of adequate judicial personnel in all levels  of our court, poor case management, lack of rules of Court for Cadi Court, Cadi Appeals Panel and Children Court, improperly constituted Cadi Courts with no certain procedures, comatose Court of Appeal, missing case files, failed LCB projects, Comatose Basse High Court, lack of maintenance of the Judiciary Headquarters, Brikama and Kanifing Court buildings, lack of staff performance appraisal system, lack of research materials, ill-equipped library, lack of adequate court rooms, office accommodation, low staff morale, no proper procurement and accountability procedures, poor court management and no substantive sheriff. He said in the past few months they have adopted some short-term strategies to address some of these problems.

Chief Justice Agim who outlined some of the medium and long-term strategies reminded them that all the reform processes and plans can only succeed with the co-operation of both members of the bench and bar.

"I cannot do it alone. If my brother Judges do not co-operate with me, these plans will fail. If the bar refused to co-operate with me the plans will certainly fail. So please support me so that together we can make the justice delivery process very efficient and effective.

"The question is what do we do as members of the legal profession to ensure that our justice delivery services are efficient and effective. The court and the bar have a common responsibility to be ethical, professional, dispassionate, diligent and strictly abide by the constitution, the law and rules in the performance of our roles with the sole objective of ensuring substantial justice. My vision is to make our Justice delivery system a model in the sub-region," he revealed.

"Lofty as it may appear, it is realisable. I invite you all to join me in the pursuit of this vision," he concluded.

Lawyer Amie Bensouda, the President of the Gambia Bar Association, spoke on behalf of the bar, while Martins U. Okoi, the Director of Civil Litigation at the Attorney-General Chambers, spoke on behalf of Attorney-General Chambers.