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City of Banjul
Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Gambia and her legal system

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Clearly, such is the sentiment that greeted the re-appointment of Mama Fatima Singhateh as the country’s new justice minister. With her appointment, Minister Singhateh is coming back into a judiciary that is begging for a revamp; a judiciary that needs to turn the searchlight unto itself as many Gambians look on with hope. It appears now that this most important drive will be tied to the attainment of the objective for a more efficient justice delivery system. 

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Despite the huge investment by government to make the sector more effective, swift justice dispensation continues to evade the grip of many. There are many repercussions which many not realise. The issues are basic but an undermining of our entire justice delivery system may be a major consequence. This requires a test case to revisit as the country sets itself on course to providing a solution to a solvable problem. The disappointments that result from the delay of justice are numerous. 

 

Meanwhile, the solution needed to fix the challenges of our legal system lies somewhere and we are all duty bound to find it. The position of the government is clear. There is commitment on its side to make the system work more effectively and efficiently. But there is also the need for Gambians to complement this effort. What is important is ensuring that the current attempt is made with a view to permanently dealing with the challenges. Past efforts that may have strengthened this prudent course must be appreciated and put into consideration. 

 

This  presents a huge opportunity to revolutionise our legal system through reforms but a common feature of these reforms will be the strengthening of the procedures. Drawing on lessons, there must be limit to some of these procedures with a particular emphasis on efficiency. The Attorney General’s office has a big stake in this because it deals with justice administration. Such reform process must also demonstrate a commitment to safeguard human dignity, human rights, transparency and accountability.

 

 

There is hope that the new minister and her team will look into the principal concern which lies in the fact that the processing of cases has been coming often at a snail’s pace. This is betrayal of a system that has in fact been instituted to deliver justice to the people in a quick and swift manner. The backlog of legal cases at our courts are serious problems which undermine the whole system. If The Gambia is to foster peace and stability, it must turn towards making her justice delivery system more robust and effective. This should compel judicial actors to be guided by the proper legal frameworks that define our legal system.

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