By Momodou Top
Chief Justice Hassan Jallow has tasked all courts to accomplish fair and speedy hearing of all criminal cases that are pending, at both the high court and magistrates’ courts in the country.
Honourable Jallow’s position was conveyed in a press release yesterday.
According to the statement, the Chief Justice’s move is triggered by reports from prison authorities indicating that the number of remand prisoners at Mile 2, Jeshwang and Jangjangbureh prisons stood at 309 which include several women.
“The High Court has 121 pending Criminal cases and the magistrates’ courts over 700”, the statement revealed.
Accordingly, the Chief Justice has directed that all courts to devote the month of July 2019 to the hearing of only criminal matters particularly those involving prisoners on remand.
“These actions will ensure a fair and speedy hearing of the criminal cases and as a way of decongesting the three overcrowded remand wings,” the statement said.
It also revealed that the Chief Justice has adopted a two-faced strategy to the matter.
The first one which is being implemented, is a general call over from the 24th to 28 June of all criminal cases in all courts in the country to be reviewed and and fixed for hearing or for other appropriate action in July 2019.
The second strategy equires all courts to hear and dispose of as many cases as possible in July.
The arrangement was supported and made known to all stakeholders such as the AG Chambers, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Police Prosecutors, the Gambia Bar Association, National Agency for Legal Aid, the Drug Law Enforcement Agency, and the Prison Services as well as the prison Fellowship of the Gambia.
“All stakeholders as well as members of the public, particularly potential witnesses, are urged to cooperate fully with the courts to ensure the success of the strategy,” the release concluded.