10 June 2019

Gambia: Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied

Punishment for a crime is effected through the deprivation of liberty by imprisonment or the deprivation of property by fines. This is why anyone accused of a crime should only be deprived of liberty or property when it is absolutely necessary and when speedy trial could be conducted. Any deprivation of liberty before guilt is established without speedy trial is an act of gross impunity. No just system should be guilty of such impunity.

It has come to the notice of this paper that persons who had either suffered injuries or loss of their compound through burning are still incarcerated in Janjangbureh prison. If this is true the Chief Justice ought to investigate to find out why such people are remanded in custody to satisfy himself that the law is being followed to the letter. It is also important to note that, according to section 162 of the Criminal Procedure Code, when an accused is remanded in custody in a criminal trial a subordinate court cannot adjourn the trial for more than seven days.

In our view when violence emerges out of civil strife maximum effort should be made to contain anger and frustration and ensure speedy justice or reconciliatory justice in order to prevent such civil strife from persisting or escalating. Using the preventive imprisonment strategy could only add fuel to the fire. It creates uncertainty as to who is right or wrong and push people to go back to their shell and lament the fate of loved ones in custody. All those who carry duties for the state should be sensitive to the plight of the people they serve. Being sensitive to the people they put on the other's shoe before presiding over his or her fate. This is the type of functionaries that The Gambia needs at all levels, the security and judiciary included.

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