Human Rights

Gambian lawyers exorcise justice delivery

As Bar week comes to end
By Yaya Dampha
A series of hurdles such as apathy from within lawyers or the lack of patience by judges are issues that affect the work of Members of the Gambia Bar Association thus culminating in ineffective justice delivery in the country. The revelations on these setbacks mainstreamed the debates that paved the way to the Bar’s congress of Friday, January 29, 2010. The president of the Bar, Amie Bensouda, took advantage of the gathering to declare her intention to step down as head. It is therefore expected that Mrs Bensouda will be formally stepping down at the Friday congress which will bring to a close the weeklong activities. Mrs Bensouda however told Thursday’s meeting that she was determined to pursue her mission at the Bar as head of its newly constituted disciplinary unite so as to help in regulating the legal practice in the country. Characterizing lack of commitment as the major problem faced by their fraternity, Bensouda appealed for more participation from members of the Bar. She argued that members must attend meetings if they want to make the Bar what it is supposed to be. She also expressed the need for lawyers to invest time and resources to strengthen the general legal council as lawyers have been under attack for not living up to expectation. Another lawyer, Ida Drammeh, picked on lack of qualified court clerks in the judiciary. She also pointed out the inactiveness of the general legal council which she said fails to establish standards as a way of regulating the legal system. She advised her colleagues to make researches before venturing into court. Lawyer Drammeh also complained about the fact that foreigners are not allowed to be members of the Bar, yet there is the need for lawyers in it. She pointed to the fact that a lot of cases take long before judgment as a result of unavailability of lawyers. This is a point that runs parallel to that of another concerned lawyer, Nenneh Cham Chongan, secretary to the Bar. Delays in court proceedings need to be addressed, agreed Lawyer Janet Sallah Njie, head of Female Lawyers Association of the Gambia (FLAG). But, she added, judges are not patient and they do not address issues exhaustively before taking action. While Lawyer Surahata Janneh condemned as waste of time the practice of lawyers holding brief in courts for their absent colleagues, another Lawyer Drammeh, working for the Gambia Revenue Authority, scolded some of her colleagues, saying that as lawyers they were expected to uphold the law, yet they were not paying their taxes.

Comments are closed.