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Drop charges against Moses Richards – GBA, Lawyers embark on strike

Jan 12, 2011, 9:34 AM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The protest against the recent arrest and prosecution of former high court judge, Moses Richards, is showing no sign of abating, as members of the Gambia Bar Association (GBA) have begun a three-day protest against their colleague’s prosecution.

The Gambia Bar Association, whose president confirmed the development to our reporter, is calling for all the charges against Moses Richards to be dropped.

The protest action, following a decision by the GBA, has affected proceedings in virtually all the courts in the country.

“Well, the Gambia Bar Association made a decision on 10th January 2011, that we will not attend any court proceedings in the Gambia for three days, effective Monday 2 pm. We will only go back to the courts on Thursday morning,” Sheriff M Tambedou, President of the Gambia Bar Association, told this reporter.

According to the GBA president, the protest is to protect all lawyers practising in the country. “We believe we are also protecting the public interest, because when a lawyer acts or writes a letter, he or she is acting on behalf of his client’s instructions, based on the information provided to him. So all lawyers in the world are protected when we act in that regard. We cannot be held accountable for taking actions on behalf of our clients,” Tambedou added.

In his view, the punishment of one lawyer means that all lawyers are at risk.

“Therefore, the public will not have confidence to go to their lawyers, because the lawyer acts on behalf of the members of the public. We are protesting against the arrest, detention or taking to court on account of that representation,” he stated.

He added: “The GBA demanded and requested that the charges against Moses Richards be dropped. We have written letters to the relevant authorities to cooperate with us in order to see those charges dropped, because it is not in anybody’s interest. Moses Richards acted on the instructions of his client.”

“The prosecution of Richards is like the prosecution of all the lawyers. It is not Moses Richards interest personally,” Tambedou continued.

“When you act for your clients, you cannot be held accountable for those actions, because you are conveying and carrying out the information provided to you (the lawyer) by your client,” he added.

He further noted that lawyers in the Gambia, likewise those anywhere, have protection when they act on behalf of their clients, not to be touched personally for those actions.

“The Constitution of the Gambia guarantees protection of everyone. We are not a special group. We are just like normal citizens, like everyone, and the protection is under the law; but what we are saying is the protection afforded to private legal practitioners. We are the mouthpiece of our clients. We represent the interest of our clients,” he pointed out.