District tribunals in focus

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I am more concerned about the happenings in The Gambia today than anywhere at the moment. For example, why is the judicial system in The Gambia more corrupt and inept than in any other known corrupt country in the world?

Amie Bensouda, a legal luminary commenting on The Gambia’s judicial structure stated: “The Gambia’s legal system is based on a tripartite system: English law, including the Common Law and principles of equity and statute law; customary law, which is administered by district tribunals; and Islamic/Shari’a law, which is administered by a cadi court system (AmieBensouda.net).

This therefore makes district tribunals by default, an arm of The Gambia’s judiciary and consequently they fall under the scrutiny of the Ministry of Justice.

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It is an established fact that any judicial system in the world is scrutinised. Why then are our district tribunals not monitored by the Ministry of Justice? Why are they not being held accountable for their actions and inactions?

Do you know that cases are taken to the district tribunals and files are left piling dust for months and they are not heard much to the frustration and consternation of the victims?

A typical case in point is the Sukuta District Tribunal. To think that this district tribunal is led by a retired police officer and a former magistrate who is supposedly an expert on Gambian legal system, beats my imagination. For a man of his standing, legal expertise and calibre, I would have thought he would have been a role model and an inspiration to the rest. In contrast, I am in disbelief that this chief with all his supposed legal pedigree, on an official working day, would choose to sleep till late into the afternoon, while people gathered in his compound waiting for him to emerge, only for him to appear and declare that there would be no hearing that day! This is ridiculously unprofessional and I have been told it happens quite often.

Imagine the constant frustration of victims who endure financial losses by paying high transport fares or buying fuel for their vehicles every time there is a scheduled hearing only to be told that there would be no hearing. People like the chief have no empathy for the taxpayers.

People of his ilk are the reason why The Gambia is still held back due to incompetence and continuous abuse of position.

Do you know that this district tribunal schedules cases for hearing only for people to realise that the scheduled date is a public holiday? In this modern day and age, anyone would thinks a district tribunal will schedule hearing days based on a calendar. Do we not live in the 21st century or is The Gambia detached from the modern world?

I am of the belief that our legal system needs to be modernised and we need to do away with all district tribunals for the simple fact that they are useless and a waste of money.