Chief Justice: Law must be applied correctly with impartiality

chief-justice-emmanuel-fagbenle-sulwayman-gassama-statehouse-gov-gm_716405The Gambia’s Chief Justice has called on judges to apply the law correctly with impartiality reminding his colleagues that the country’s constitution is clear on its application is cases.

Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle said if verdicts or judgements do not reflect the law, then it is illegal.

“The Constitution is very clear to those who read it with an unbiased mind and we are supposed to do our jobs as professionals; doing the best we can and getting the best result,” he said.

The Gambia’s government has been accused of practicing actions that undermine judicial independence and the rule of law, and its overall attitude to the judiciary was of grave concern to the right groups.

At least 50 opposition protesters including the country’s largest opposition party leader Ousainou Darboe were in July given three year sentences for leading a procession without a permit. Campaigners say it created a climate where the protection of constitutional rights is undermined and the rule of law subverted.

An Imam of Kanifing South, Alhagie Sawaneh is said to be held at a provincial prison facility in the city of Janjangbureh, some 162 miles from the capital Banjul, though a court in the country has ordered for his release.

A group of international lawyers observed concerns at the frequent disregard or delay in compliance with court orders by members of the executive, particularly those which are politically unpopular.

Chief Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan and dismissed two other Supreme Court Judges, Justice Raymond Shock and Justice Semega Janneh after they overturned the convictions of two former military chiefs. Former CJ Chowhan said Mr Jammeh was not happy with the decision of the court.

The executive has been accused of considering itself to be above the law.

President Jammeh appoints and fires judges most of whom are Nigerians and are to follow orders from the executive or lose their job. Though a judicial service committee exists, the committee is appointed by the presidency as well.

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