By Bruce Asemota
The Kanifing High Court presided over by Justice A Tutu Osei has ordered the Inspector General of Police to compensate one Silvanus Johnson, a 70-year-old man with the sum of D40.000 for hardship and distress after he was detained for more than 72hrs.
The court also declared that Silvanus Johnson’s detention or a period exceeding seventy-two hours is a violation of his rights and liberties guaranteed under the 1997 Constitution.
Delivering judgment, Justice Osei disclosed that the complainant was arrested on the 7 April, 2020, cautioned and charged for the offence of rape.
Justice Osei further disclosed that the Inspector General of Police in its defence stated that attempts were made to arraign him before the court but COVID-19 pandemic restrictions issued by the Chief Justice of the Gambia suspended the court proceedings.
Justice Osei asserted that COVID-19 restrictions cannot be a good ground to detain the applicant beyond the constitutional threshold of seventy-two hours.
The trial Judge pointed out that the applicant may have been charged with an offence but that does not answer the question why he was detained beyond seventy-two hours.
The judge revealed that the Inspector General of Police woefully failed to justify the detention of the applicant beyond seventy-two hours without any good cause or justification.
Justice Osei disclosed that the country is governed by laws with the constitution being the supreme law which guarantees the personal liberties and rights of the people.
He urged the police to lend their support and cooperation to the courts which is the last bastion of our democracy in its pursuit to the rule of law and the justice delivery system.
He however said though the applicant had claimed he had health issues as a result of his detention, he did not assist the court with any medical proof and therefore that claim cannot be considered by the court.