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Lawyer Martin Calls for CPC Section 99 Review

Apr 23, 2009, 9:20 AM | Article By: Malamin Conteh

Mr Assan Martin, a one-time magistrate, has said that there is a growing need for Section 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) in The Gambia to be reviewed.

He argued that this specific section punishes both guilty and innocent people before their cases are heard.

Speaking to this reporter recently in an exclusive interview, Mr Martin said he is concerned that this provision automatically refuses bail when a person is only accused.

"Initially it was left to the court's discretion to either grant bail or not, but as amended the CPC provides that anyone accused of an offence punishable with life imprisonment or death should not be granted bail," he said.

He added: "This is an offence that automatically denies accused person bail just because they are accused or charged with felonies."

On the other hand, he continued, Section 24(3) of the Constitution 1997 provides that anyone charged with a criminal offence is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

"Therefore the amended Section 99 contradicts Section 24(3) of the constitution, as it punishes people by refusing them bail before they are tried in court," he said.

He added: "Furthermore Section 4 of the Constitution provides that the constitution is the supreme law of the land and any law or provision that contravenes it should be void."

According to him, in a situation where people are refused bail prior to their trials and are later found innocent and acquitted by a court, their liberty cannot be compensated.