Opening of the Legal Year 2022 by the President
By Musa Saho
The Judiciary of the Gambia in collaboration with the Attorney General’s Chambers at the Ministry of Justice commemorate the official opening of the Legal Year 2022 recently at the Supreme Court Complex on the Independence Drive in Banjul.
The annual ceremony was presided over by His Excellency the President of the Republic of the Gambia and the celebration brought together all the stakeholders in the legal sectors such as the Judiciary, Private and Public Bars, the Executive and the Legislature.
In his opening remarks, President Adama Barrow reaffirmed his government's continuous support and commitment to the judiciary for a sustainable, healthy and stable democracy.
He added that his government, still maintained that the judiciary should remain resolute and strong enough to facilitate good governance and rule of law.
The President further stated that “he is proud to report that the Gambia is in full compliance with its reporting obligation and will continue to fulfill international reporting commitments.”
In respect of such an important obligation, as expressed in the National Development Plan, the president said his government has achieved nearly 70% of its reporting targets for 2018-2021.
President Barrow reminded the audience that last year, he launched the Judiciary Strategic Plan 2021-2025, which aims to provide the roadmap and framework to enable the judiciary to discharges functions as a key player in protecting constitutional democracy, the rule of law and good governance.
In addition, he sent special tribute to the men and women in the judiciary for serving justly and devotedly under the able leadership of the Chief Justice, Honourable Hassan B. Jallow.
President Barrow concluded by saying that, his government is fully conscious of the sacrifices the judiciary makes to protect the peace and stability of this country.
In his part, Attorney General and Minister of Justice Hon. Dawda Jallow said the occasion offers the judiciary and the main stakeholders within the justice system an opportunity to take stock of and share the milestone registered over the previous legal year and the challenges anticipated in the coming year.
He added that the opening of the legal year is also an opportunity to share strategies, plans and initiatives marked for implementation in the course of the new legal year.
Attorney General went further to outline his ministry’s achievements and challenges registered in the previous year and plans ahead for the new legal year.
He concluded by urging his colleagues in the legal sectors to continue to enforce fundamental human rights and freedom through state reporting.
Hon. Hassan B. Jallow, the Chief Justice of the Republic of Gambia elaborates in length his office achievements, challenges and plans ahead for the new legal year.
He said that: “ the judiciary is in active discussion with the American Bar Association on the implementation of some of the components of the plan such as, in regards to training, case management, automation of court records and processes, review and revision of rules of courts as well as alternative dispute resolution processes,”.
The Chief Justice went further to advocated for special retirement benefits for retired judges. He pointed out that it is important for the government to bear in mind that retired judges are prohibited by law from engaging in legal practice.
“But, unless special retirement benefits are provided by law for judges, as obtained in other Commonwealth countries applying the same rule, judges will retire into penury and poverty following a lifetime of public service.” Mr. Jallow stated.
For his part, the President of Gambia Bar Association who doubled as the Guest Speaker on the occasion, Mr. Salieu Taal said, today the country celebrates the official opening of the legal year in the different Gambia, the Gambia that has emerged from a twenty-two-year brutal dictatorship and a system that deliberately undermined the independence and integrity of the judicial sector until the democratic will of the Gambian people and the threat of military forces finally uprooted the system ushering the democracy the country is celebrating today.
The Bar Association President added that rule of law is the bedrock of a democratic society, and not only about fair application and respect for the law of the land but goes beyond that in fact the rule of law disposes of the law of the land as just and equitable.
“The cornerstone of the rule of law is equality and fairness of the laws. The laws of the land in a democracy must reflect the republican values of the state and empower the citizen to exercise their constitutional and statutory rights without any undue hindrance. The law of the land in a democracy must not be oppressive and against democratic values or offend human rights principles” Mr. Taal postulated.