16 February 2018

Gambia: Justice Minister Holds Press Briefing

Justice Minister Aboubacarr Tambedou on Wednesday 14thFebruary 2018, held his monthly press briefing at the Victims' Center.

During the briefing, Tambadou said President Barrow, acting under Section 22 (2) of the TRRC Act, after consultation with him and the Public Service Commission, appointed Mr. Baba Galleh Jallow as Executive Secretary to the Commission and that arrangements are being made for him to be sworn-in.

On the TRRC, he said the deadline will be extended for another week for more nominations of commissioners and that the parallel process for regional nominations has not yet commenced, due mainly to funding issues, but that he was optimistic that this will soon be sorted out.

"Our objective is to have the Commission start its first sitting in the first week of April, subject to the timely availability of resources. We have already identified an appropriate location for the Commission", he said

He stated that nationwide consultations on the establishment of the TRRC, the enhancement of the Ministry of Justices' professionalism through the provision of continuing legal education and material resources to increase efficiency and the successful hosting of the National Stakeholders Conference on Human Rights and Justice with 500 participants from religious, youth, women groups including civil society organizations as a key milestone of the new dispensation.

He highlighted the appointment of 12 Gambian judges of the Superior Courts including a fully constituted Supreme Court Bench of Gambian Justices, Magistrates for the subordinate courts, institutional re-alignment in accordance with Constitutional provisions, for example, amendment of the Rent Act 2017,, to restore judicial oversight of Rent Tribunals as some of the achievements of Government on judicial reform endeavors.

On strengthening democracy and the rule of law, he averred that the amendment of electoral laws to allow for greater public participation in the democratic process by reducing the deposits payable to contest in legislative elections resulting in over 200 candidates vying for 53 National Assembly seats in the legislature; Constitutional amendment to allow for the direct election of Chairpersons in local Government, placing them at par with Mayors of the Municipalities of Banjul and the KMC; establishment of a Constitutional Review Commission by an Act of the National Assembly with a view to adopting a new Republican Constitution which will strengthen democratic governance including the establishment of a presidential term limit and the ongoing review of the media and criminal laws that limit the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, are some successes registered.

"The establishment of a National Human Rights Commission by an Act of the National Assembly and the establishment of a Criminal Case and Detention Review Panel, reviewed a total of 241 criminal cases involving 304 accused persons. Recommendations were made to discontinue prosecution in 36 cases involving 86 accused persons, on the basis of insufficient evidence, and the exercise of the prerogative of mercy by His Excellency, the President, resulting in the pardoning of over 200 prisoners across the country, was also made. No more cases of arbitrary arrest, detention without trial, disappearance or torture and treaty signing by His Excellency, the President, for the additional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on the abolition of the death penalty indicating a commitment to abolish the death penalty in The Gambia, have helped to strengthen human rights in the country", he cited.

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