Four Supreme Court judges have been sworn-in by Gambia’s President Adama Barrow to start hearing cases in the West African nation’s constitutional court, which had been at a standstill for years.
The judges: Justice Nicholas C. Browne-Marke, Justice Abubakarr Datti Yahaya, Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow and Justice Marry Mamyassin Sey immediately went to work Monday hearing cases brought against the government.
“The role of the judiciary in this new dispensation cannot be overemphasized. We count on all of you to effectively and honestly contribute to building a strong, open and just society underpinned by the respect for human rights, democracy and freedom for all,” said President Barrow.
Gambia’s former president, Yahya Jammeh refused to appoint judges to the Supreme Court and had been accused of interfering with the court.
His election petition challenging Adama Barrow’s victory was nailed in the coffin because the Supreme Court did not have enough judges on the bench to hear it.
Barrow appointed a former senior UN Special Prosecutor, Hassan Jallow as the country’s Chief Justice and another former UN Prosecutor, Aboubacarr Baa Tambadou as Attorney General.
The Gambia’s judiciary is regarded as one of the least independent by the International Bar Association. Jammeh had used the courts to detain and imprison his political rivals and perceived enemies.
The Gambia’s new government has pledged not to interfere in judicial matters and for the first time in the country’s half a century post-independence history, a majority of the judges in its constitutional court are Gambians.