8 November 2018

Gambia: Life Time Appointment of Judges

Photo: Daily Trust
(File photo).

The lifetime appointment of judges in any country helps strengthen democracy and uphold the rule of law.

Countries that have appointed Supreme Court and other High Court judges for lifetimes have no doubt ensured steady democracy and have built citizens' confidences in their legal systems. Therefore it would be very essential if The Gambia could emulate such exemplary methods in order to consolidate gains so far made in our two-year-old democracy.

Also, the lifetime appointment of judges helps ensure consistent and sustained justice, as they would not be worried of being fired for making judgments. However, to ensure this kind of appointment, we should make sure that in the new constitution, the president should not have the power to appoint judges as usual.

President Adama Barrow last month announced the appointment of eight Gambians as judges of the superior courts of The Gambia, with effect from 1 November 2017.

The appointed judges were: Justice Gibril B. Samega Janneh as Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Raymond C. Sock as Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Awa Bah as President of the Gambia Court of Appeal, Justice Haddy Cecilia Roche as Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Basiru V.P. Mahoney as Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Kumba Sillah Camara as Justice of the Court of Appeal, Barrister Buba Jawo, Master and Registrar of the High Court as judge of the High Court and Barrister Ebrima Jaiteh, ex-magistrate and a private practitioner as Judge of the High Court.

The appointment of these Gambian judges in our superior courts signals the prospect of the country handling its judicial system by itself.

Their appointments came pursuant to the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission made on 19th and 27th September 2017.

In the consultation tour of the Constitutional Review Committee, it's important to note that many suggestions have been heard from citizens including the rights for imamates, diaspora community to vote, and even retention of the death penalty.

However, the lifetime appointment of judges should also be carefully considered in the new constitution.

What is it that makes us trust our judges? Their independence in office and manner of appointment."

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