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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Justice Minister denies executive interference in judiciary

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By Omar Bah

The Minister of Justice Dawda Jallow on Wednesday described claims by Latrikunda Sabiji NAM that his office is interfering with court processes as a “serious allegation”.

During his contribution in the debate on the State of the Nation Address, Honourable Yahya Menteng Sanyang alleged that the Ministry of Justice is interfering with the work of judges.

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Responding, Justice Minister Dawda Jallow tensely said: “I consider this a very serious allegation and I am not too sure how far the honorable member verified his allegations. And he even went further to mention a particular judge who delivered a decision and we probably were not happy with and that the judge was frustrated and left. As a member of the Assembly, before making such allegations the member for Latrikunda should verify it”.

The minster said there is zero executive interference in the administration of justice under the current dispensation. “We don’t interfere in the appointment of judges or disciplining of judges or judicial officers. So even if it is true that a particular judge has left, we don’t know the circumstance and we are not responsible. It could be purely a judicial process for which I don’t think it will be fair to start pointing fingers at the executive to the extent of saying ‘we are worried that we are going back to the days of dictatorship’” the minister said.

Minister Jallow said the government is very concerned about the delay of cases and his office usually engages the Judiciary on the matter.

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Victims’ compensation

Minister Jallow also informed lawmakers that the government is working very hard in consultation with the victim community to start paying compensation this year.

He said the government is committed to implementing the recommendations of the TRRC but will need time.

“We are very committed to the plight of the victims. My office is working very closely with the victims and we have made a public undertaking that we have put aside some funds for victims this year. The plan is there was to be a Victims Bill ready. That was our expectation but unfortunately, I don’t think it will be ready this year,” he said.

In that bill, Minister Jallow added: “We envisage to set up an agency that would succeed the TRRC that would be independent and would be able to administer what we call the victims fund to continue paying reparations to the victims.”

He said there will be an interim arrangement that the government will have confidence in to disburse the little money in place for the victims to that body for compensations.

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