President Adama Barrow has pledged his administration will not interfere with the working of the judiciary. Four judges were sworn-in on Monday by the West African leader as he seeks to rebrand the justice system.
Barrow, 52, came to power after regional troops were deployed to end a political standoff between him and former dictator, Yahya Jammeh.
Barrow ran a campaign on a commitment to promote the principles of an independent judiciary and the rule of law, a big promise that had Gambians voting for him in the election in which Jammeh suffered defeat.
His administration is determined to build strong institutions capable of transforming “the state of this great nation from dictatorship to democracy and from despair to hope.”
“I am fully aware of the numerous challenges besetting the effective and efficient delivery of Justice in this country which includes timely access to justice, limited resources and the capacity to retain competent legal practitioners,” said Barrow.
“I have no doubt, however, that with collective national resolve and commitment coupled with the continued support from our development partners, we shall be able to reposition the judicial sector to respond to the current realities of our country sooner rather than later.”
Gambia’s judiciary has been regarded as one of the least independent after Jammeh took power in a 1994 coup. He has used the courts to detain and imprison his political rivals and perceived enemies.
Judges who did not follow his orders were arrested and dismissed. At least four chief justices have been fired by Jammeh within three years and a handful of magistrates arrested for ruling against his government.
But Barrow now says the Gambia will never return to the days of constitutional disregard and impunity. The government says it will ensure the effective functioning of the judiciary and the proper administration of justice.