Gambia’s President Adama Barrow appointed eight new judges to the Superior Court of the West African nation, all of them citizens, a deviation from the long practice of appointing foreigners.
The country’s Chief Justice Hassan Jallow said President Barrow made the appointments on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission.
The appointed judges are: Justice Gibril B Semega Janneh (justice of the superior court), Justice Raymond C Sock (Justice of the Supreme Court), Justice Awa Bah (President of the Gambia Court of Appeal), Justice Haddy Cecilia Roche (Justice of the Court of Appeal), Justice Basiru VP Mahoney (justice of the Court of Appeal), Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara (Justice of the Court of Appeal), Buba Jawo – Esq. (Judge of the High Court), Ebrima Jaiteh – Esq. (Judge of the High Court).
Jaiteh was forced into exile in 2015 after freeing a Muslim cleric, Sheriff Muhideen Hydara, for disobeying the orders of the ex-autocratic ruler, Yahya Jammeh by observing an Islamic festival on a day not sanctioned by his administration.
Barrow has made a campaign promise of “Gambianizing” the judiciary as they reform the legal institutions of the small nation that has been controlled by Jammeh for 22 years.
The nation’s judiciary is widely criticized for doing the bidding of the dictator during his rule.
Barrow has promised non-interference in the work of the judges and he has appointed a UN war crime prosecutor Hassan Jallow as his Chief Justice and former UN prosecutor, Aboubacarr Tambadou as Attorney General.
Barrow in April appointed six Gambians to the Supreme Court. The Justice Department said it is making efforts to end prolonged pretrial detention and vowed to end incommunicado detention.
At least 37 soldiers are being held for a failed mutiny and human rights violations. Human rights groups say aside from reforming the judiciary, key issues that Barrow face include providing justice to victims of Jammeh-era abuses and reforming the security services.
(Reporting and Writing by Mustapha Darboe; Additional Writing and Editing by Sam Phatey)