Mr. Johnson, a resident of Dobson Street in Banjul was arrested and detained for 13 days without any charges or appearing before a court of law. He was allegedly arrested and detained at the Police Headquarters in Banjul from April 4 to 19, 2020.
Sylvanus Johnson, through his lawyer, Malick H.B. Jallow in December 2020 sued the Inspector General of Police (1st Respondent) and the Attorney General (2nd Respondent) for unlawful detention and violation of his right to personal liberty.
According to a court affidavit, the police violated Mr. Johnson’s right to personal liberty, and freedom, which is guaranteed by the 1997 Constitution.
Court documents filed on behalf of Sylvanus Johnson on December 18, 2020 against the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General also asked for compensation for the violations.
In his judgement on Tuesday, Justice Oseitutu said: “Before I make my final orders, let me caution the police of this great nation that the country is governed by law with the Constitution being the Supreme law which guarantees the personal liberties and rights of the people. There should therefore not be any attempt on any day or occasion to deprive the people from the enjoyment of these rights and liberties or in any manner take them for granted. Such a course would be relentlessly, fearlessly, and zealously resisted by the courts that are mandated by the Constitution as the last hope of the people of The Gambia. The police are rather urged to lend their support and cooperation to the Courts which is the bastion of our democracy in its pursuit to the rule of law and justice delivery.
Consequently, this court does not regret in granting the prayers of the Applicant herein as follows:
- That the Applicant’s detention by the 1st Respondent for a period exceeding Seventy-two hours is a violation of the Applicant’s rights and liberties guaranteed under the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia.
- That the Applicant be compensated with the sum of D40, 000 for the hardship and distress visited on him.“
Lawyer Malick H.B Jallow represented the applicant while the 1st and 2nd Respondents were represented by Senior State Counsel Lamin Jarjue.
Reacting to the verdict, Lawyer Jallow stated: “This decision is very important in demonstrating that, as a last resort, the courts would ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms are protected where public institutions fail to fulfill their primary responsibility to do so. In this instance the applicant afforded the respondents reasonable opportunity for self regulation with respect to his unlawful detention which was not forthcoming, ultimately leading to the initiation of a court process by the applicant for redress. Impunity is not an option.“