11 July 2018

Gambia: A G Tambadou On Fertiliser Scandal

During his meeting with the press on Monday July 9th, Aboubacarr Tambadou, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice said the decision to sack the former Agric. Minister Omar Amadou Jallow, was best known to President Barrow himself.

"I confirm to you that the Office of the President, forwarded to us a report prepared by a panel of investigators, into the allegation of the unlawful disposal of fertiliser, by officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and one Mr. Dibba. We are conducting a review of that file and it has been a few months now, since they gave us this file. We are not treating the case any differently from other cases. My Ministry is very overwhelmed. We are dealing with a lot of cases and each of the State Counsels, has a lot of cases to deal with. The case is going through the usual office process of dealing with legal opinions. The matter is still under review by my Ministry but allow me to further clarify, that the relief by his Excellency the President of the former Minister of Agriculture Honourable OJ Jallow, has nothing to do with the fertiliser case, because we are yet to advice Government on that matter," A G Tambadou told Journalists.

He continued: "On Criminal Justice Reform, we have now secured assistance from the South Korean Government through the Korean International Cooperation Agency, to support the criminal justice and prison reform process, including criminal justice legislative reforms. This assistance will enable us conduct a comprehensive review of our criminal laws and procedures, with a view to adopting international best practices and repeal retrogressive laws. The project will be executed through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)."

On the advice of UN team that came in the country last year for the Gambia to close the State's central prison commonly referred to as Mile II, the Attorney General stated that there are lots of recommendations in terms of how Government can progress and advance in upholding the respect of human rights. Mile II, he said, holds a lot of horrific stories and the intention of Government is to build a new prison and use Mile II for another function, may be as a museum; but that for the now Government does not to close down Mile II because there is nowhere to take the prisoners to serve their sentences; that it is an option to close down Mile II but that Government must have an alternative in the first place.

About the Kerr Mot Hali Village's Judgement, A G Tambadou said the Ministry ordered the police not to provide escort to the Sheriff's Division of the High Court; that the Ministry does not have any authority to stop the enforcement of any judgement.

"What the Ministry sought to do, was to convey our intention to apply for a stay of execution of that judgement, pending an appeal or reference to the Supreme Court because there are very fundamental issues surrounding that incident. It is a typical Constitutional Law case, where we have one group of people, requesting for the exercise of their fundamental rights to live and practice their religion, and were for the public interest and morality, Government has to strike this balance in terms of addressing or facilitating the exercise of the right of one, and also maintaining public morality. It is a very serious issue that we are considering and we still consider our options in terms of moving forward. We did not seek for a stay of execution but rather, communicated our intention. I have to say this. Even when the judgment was rendered, the Sheriff's division conveyed their worry in terms of executing the judgement, because it is a very burning issue in that community and we wouldn't want to encourage or be the cause of violence. I know the courts orders need to be enforced and needs to be enforced strictly. But on the other hand, it is in the interest of the public that we feel such order should be relief and another court should look into the facts and perhaps address it more appropriately, in the way that we feel as Government should be, and we have every right to seek for a stay of execution," he said.

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