12 June 2018

Gambia: The People of Mot Hali Are Crying for Justice When Will Their Judgment Be Enforced?

In the year 2009 the people of Kerr Mot Hali in Upper Saloum District, Central River Region were booted out of their village in which they claim to have been living since the 18th Century. For the past nine years they have been living as refugees in Senegal not being able to occupy their village. They were patient and followed the due process of law but since judgment was delivered in their favour on 12th October 2017 and a subsequent writ of possession granted in January 2018 the people of Kerr Mot Hali cannot still take possession of their land because of lack of enforcement, even though they have offered an olive branch.

In this new dispensation, the judiciary needs to be vigilant and the Executive has to recognise and respect the independence of the judiciary and assist it in the execution of its functions. Section 120 subsection (4) of the Constitution stipulates that,

"The Government and all departments and agencies of the Government shall accord such assistance to the courts as the courts may reasonably require to protect their independence, dignity and effectiveness."

Further, the people of Kerr Mot Hali believe that they have discriminated because of their religious belief and this is the reason why they were kicked out of their village, contrary to the requirements of sections 25 and 33 of the Constitution. The Court held that they are not to be discriminated by the Respondents on account of their religion, culture, and tradition and particularly in the practice of their religion and the manifestation of such practices in the village. After all, justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done.

The new dispensation calls for vigilance and the avoidance of slippages into the past.

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