Gambia appoints first female Appeals Court president

Gambia appoints first female Appeals Court president

The Gambia appointed its first female President of the Court of Appeals as its new leader, Adama Barrow seek to have more women taking up leading roles in some of the country’s most critical institutions.

Justice Awa Bah studied law at the University of Abuja and did her bar at the Nigerian Bar School. She was called to the Nigerian and Gambian Bar in 1999.

Bah has been State Counsel, Senior State Counsel, Principal State Counsel, Curator of Intestate Estates, Registrar of Companies, Registrar General and Deputy Solicitor General and Legal Secretary.

She has been a High Court judge since 2010, sitting at in the administrative city of Brikama, in southwestern Gambia and a member of the Appeal’s Court.

“I believe there is much to celebrate as qualified Gambian legal professionals increasingly take their place in our judicial system. A growing number of women are joining the Bench, and today, we happily welcome three more women to the Superior Courts,” he said.

“The law constitutes the bedrock of any society, and it is the last line of defense for all. It requires justice to be done in the right manner, according to law, without fear or favor, affection or ill-will.”

Six judges appointed by President Adama Barrow have taken their oath on Tuesday at the State House, following their recommendation by the country’s Judicial Service Commission.

Gambia’s judiciary is one of the few institutions that have won public confidence since Mr. Barrow came to power. A soldier suspected of attempting to assassinate Barrow has been acquitted by the courts.

Barrow promised to end the culture of appointing more foreign judges than Gambians in the judiciary. He has also pledged to have more women taking roles.

Barrow’s predecessor was notorious for interfering in judicial matters, but he has vowed to stir away from former President Yahya Jammeh’s practices.

One of the newly appointed judges, Ebrima Jaiteh was arrested and forced into exile after acquitting a Muslim cleric, who observed an Islamic festival on a day different from the one sanctioned by Jammeh.

“I assure the new judges that my administration will continue to create the conducive environment for them to deliver on their mandate without any interference from the Executive branch,” said Barrow.

“Now that the years of tyranny are over, the country is enjoying freedom and democracy. Public interest and confidence in our judicial system are increasing.”

Barrow wants the new judges: Justice Awa Bah, Justice Haddy Cecillia Roche, Justice Basiru Vassili Portier Mahoney, and Justice Kumba Sillah-Camara of the Appeals Court, and Justice Buba Jawo and Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the High Court to judiciously maintain impartiality and the fearless administration of the law.

Half of the judges sworn-in on Tuesday are women, reflecting President Barrow’s commitment to promoting gender equality in decision-making positions.

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