By Abdoulie John

President Adama Barrow announced Sunday that more needed to be done in the judicial system as the country is going through an era of unprecedented change punctuated by massive constitutional and institutional reforms.

“I have observed, for example, the crime rate and the desire for violence among a section of the youth, especially crimes of sexual violence against women and girls,” said the Gambian leader in his address at the opening of the 2020 Legal Year held at the High Court complex in Banjul.

Since the advent of the new democratic dispensation, the tiny West African nation has been making giant strides in the area of transformative reforms at institutional and constitutional levels.

President Barrow also decried the backlog and slow handling of court cases, stressing the need to scale up efforts in order to maintain public confidence in the Judiciary.

In line with the government’s plan to recruit the required number of judges for the High Court, President Barrow announced the appointment of two more Judges from the sister Republic of Ghana.

“I hope more Gambians will take up the challenge of serving on the Bench to fill the gap,’ he said.

President Barrow made it clear that his Government remains  committed to “providing a sustained conducive environment for an efficient, transparent and fair legal system in The Gambia.”

For his part, Chief Justice Hassan B. Jallow emphasized that the speedy dispensation of justice requires collaborative efforts from judicial officers and their support staff. More importantly, he outlined the involvement of various stakeholders in the judicial process.

He then cited key areas where collaboration is much needed such as criminal cases, the police, the law officers in the Attorney General’s Chambers, private legal practitioners, National Agency for Legal Aid (NALA), witnesses and parties to cases, and particularly those arms of gov’t which are the custodians and dispensers of the resources that are needed for speedy dispensation of justice.

Chief Justice Jallow unveiled major plans to build a new court complex at Bundung aimed at hosting a High Court, Magistrate Courts and Cadi Courts.

“I am happy to report that with the provision of funding, the completion of the design of the structures and the award of the contract for the construction of the complex has been concluded,” he indicated.

The activities, he went on, marking the opening of the legal year be punctuated by the laying of foundation stone of the project on the 28th January, 2020.

“The project is expected to be completed by early 2021,”  he revealed.

Additionally, Chief Justice further stated that plans are advanced stage to open in 2020 a new magistrate court at the Mile 7 properties of the judiciary in order to reduce the pressure on the Kanifing courts.

“It is necessary that more court room space is created in the Greater Banjul Area not only to reduce the queue of magistrates for court rooms but also to attend efficiently to the large number of cases in the subordinate courts in this region,” Jallow explained.

Possible Indictment of ex-President Yahya Jammeh

Speaking earlier, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Aboubacarr Tambadou, spared no efforts to address the ‘big elephant in the room.’

Tambadou warned that former if President Jammeh steps into the country, he will be subjected to an accountability process like any ordinary accused person.

“Make no mistake about it, barring any findings or recommendations of the TRRC to the contrary, if former President Jammeh, ever comes back to this country, he will immediate arrest,” said Tambadou in unequivocal terms. [N]o amount of idle talk or political brinkmanship will prevent this from happening.”

Ends

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