By Abdoulie John

The Gambia’s Chief Justice has urged the newly enrolled legal practitioners to always keep in mind that honesty and integrity are cardinal virtues that should guide them in the exercise of their duty.

“Act at all times with honesty and with integrity,” Justice Hassan Bubacarr Jallow on Friday told a ceremony convened by the General Legal Council at the High Court in Banjul to confer certificate on 27 graduands.

The Gambia, a country that had been under the yokes of dictatorship for 22 years, is transitioning from dictatorship to democracy. Since the advent of the new regime, authorities have announced Gambianisation of the judiciary as part of their effort to revamp a sector that was subject to multiple assaults by the Jammeh dictatorship. One of the assaults was an aggressive strategy of massive interference aimed at undermining the country’s judicial system.

Chief Justice Jallow reminded the new comers in the legal profession that they must not stop at studying the code of conduct. “Now you must live it,” he added as he welcomed the new lawyers to the Bar.

Justice Jallow warned new lawyers of challenging times that lie ahead of them, which is why they need to study more, learn more and work hard more. He then added that their practice at the Bar will depend on their continued study of the law while updating themselves with major developments of the law on practices and procedures.

“What lies ahead of you is not easier than what you have gone through in the past few years,” he remarked.

Speaking on behalf of Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou, Ousainou Thomasi told the newly enrolled lawyers that what differentiates the legal profession from the others are the core values of integrity and honesty lawyers exhibit at all times.

“You have repeatedly been told at Law School that character and integrity are key to your profession. I do not know of any other profession that emphasizes the importance of these two,” he said.

Thomasi advised new lawyers to do everything possible to maintain their good character.

“Do not take advantage of your clients or anyone vulnerable,” he warned. “You are in a position of trust, and should therefore not abuse your position.”

As the country continues to emerge from the shadows of two-decade long dictatorship, Gambia Bar Association (GBA) President, Salieu Taal, seized the opportunity to refresh people’s mind on the turbulent years Gambians have gone through.

“Every generation of lawyers will have their fair share of societal challenges,” he indicated. “Our generation operated under a dictatorship, an oppressive regime which saw lawyers as a threat.”

GBA President, whose activism is well-known to the general public, said former President Yahya Jammeh did everything possible to make their job hard, to weaken them as a Bar Association.

“Our Constitution, our laws were tools of oppression,” he said while indicating that such situation made Gambia vulnerable to the whim of one man.

However, he further stated that the Bar made history on December 2nd, 2016 when the erstwhile GBA President, Sheriff Tambadou, condemned the ex-President’s attempt to subvert the will of the people. Lawyer Tambadou’s move that had triggered series of reactions, with pro-democracy groups following suit in a domino effect…

Ends

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