By Binta A Bah
For the first time, the Gambian judiciary has appointed female cadis. A cadi or qadi is a magistrate or judge of a Sharia court.
Last Friday, Fatoumatta Sowe and Mariam Jatta were sworn in to hear matters relating to marriage, divorce and inheritance where a party or parties are Muslims.
Taking the oaths on the Qur’an, they promised to deliver justice to the Muslim community with integrity, fearlessness and impartiality. They took oaths with three other male cadis, Bakary Touray, Basirou Ceesay and Sulayman Ceesay.
Chief Justice Hassan Jallow who administered the oaths, said the Judicial Service Commission has firm confidence that the newly appointed cadis will carry out their tasks effectively.
“As judges or cadis, always remember to maintain your independence. Don’t allow yourself to be influenced by anything or anybody other than what is before you in the courtroom,” he advised.
“You have to maintain your integrity. A judge needs a little bit knowledge of the law, a lot of wisdom but a whole lot more integrity. If you don’t have integrity, it doesn’t matter how much law you know, you won’t do a good job. Just always be fair and act honestly,” CJ Jallow exhorted.
A former speaker of parliament, Elizabeth Renner, who is a member of the Judicial Service Commission, challenged the new cadis to be truthful at all times and abide by the constitution.
“The position of a cadi is not political,” she told them. “You cannot judge somebody because he or she belongs to a particular political party or tribe. The law is for everybody. If you know you cannot hear a case, you recuse yourself,” she said.
Cadi Mariama Jatta told The Standard: “This appointment and my success in achieving it for the sharia courts and for women. Having a woman as a cadi is a matter for celebration. It’s the first in the history of this great country.”