By Mama A Touray
President Adama Barrow yesterday graced the 2023 legal year for the seventh time since he came to power in 2017 urging legal personnel to be ethical and professional in the execution of their duty.
Legal year is celebrated every year to enable legal personnel to get stock of the past and chart a way forward for expeditious justice delivery in the coming year.
Presiding over the ceremony attended by legal luminaries, senior government officials and a cross section of the society, the Gambian leader extolled the judicial staff for their commitment towards quality justice delivery and urged them to be ethical and professional in order to attain a prosperous and stable democracy.
“As our primary goal is to attain a prosperous and stable democracy, living by the law as committed Gambian citizens through ethical and professional means, I encourage the personnel of the legal sector to live by the ethics of their profession and deliver in accordance with the Constitution and other laws, as we expect them to interpret and apply them on behalf of the people,” President Barrow advised.
Barrow added that the centrality of justice in a democracy makes the annual celebration of the legal year more crucial for the country and also avails the government an opportunity to review its performance within the framework of the law and also ponder ahead for better planning to address the shortcomings.
“An objective review of the legal sector would clearly reveal my Government’s commitment to entrenching democratic values and principles in our governance structures and procedures. Despite all the challenges, we have attained the key objectives set for the sector and have mapped a way forward to strengthen the rule of law in the Gambia,”he said
President Barrow also revealed a plan by his government in addressing the welfare of the judicial officials which includes remuneration and other entitlement which he said will be presented by the justice ministry before the national assembly which will regulate and address the conditions of service of judicial officials particularly judges who have no retirement benefits.
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dawda Jallow highlighted the monumental achievement made by the ministry over the past years in providing indispensable services in promoting and protecting the rule of law gear towards quality justice delivery and good governance in the country.
In highlighting the key milestones obtained in the last legal year Justice Minister Jallow recalled: “As a Ministry and a Criminal Justice Sector Actor, we understand our obligation in promoting and protecting human and peoples’ rights in all legal actions and we continue to put in efforts to ensure that criminal cases under our purview are properly managed, handled and prosecuted to guarantee undue delay in the prosecution of cases. To achieve success in the timely execution of our various mandates this year; we have appointed 12 young and energetic state lawyers to secure an adequate number of staff in handling cases at both the civil and criminal divisions at the Ministry.”
He commended partners such as the UN, ECOWAS, EU and USAID for their relentless support to the ministry for the past years towards the country’s transitional justice programme among others.