Gambia’s Chief Justice and former UN genocide prosecutor, Hassan B. Jallow has shuffled judges to diffuse tensions between the Bar Association and the Judicial Service Commission.
At least four judges, including Justice Simeon Abi, have been moved to courts outside the capital, Banjul.
Justice Simeon Abi has been moved to Basse High Court, Edward E. Ogar to the Brikama High Court, Justice Martin U. Okoi to Kanifing High Court and Justice A.O. Agboola to the Banjul Annex, judicial sources say.
The appointment of the judges is being challenged by the Gambia Bar Association. The association boycotted the courts of the four judges and demanded that their appointment is nullified.
The judges are on contract with the Gambia government, according to a Justice Department source. Their contract was hurriedly renewed by former President Yahya Jammeh during the political standoff that led him to flee.
Four Supreme Court judges have been sworn-in by Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow to start hearing cases in the West African nation’s constitutional court, which had been at a standstill for years.
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.
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.