The Chief Justice of The Gambia, His Lordship Honorable Hassan B. Jallow on Tuesday 8th November, 2022, received a high-powered delegation from South Sudan. The delegation, led by the Minister of Justice of South Sudan Mr Madol Arol was in the country for a study visit on The Gambia’s transitional justice program. During the discussions, the head of the delegation hailed The Gambia’s transitional justice program, describing it as a model for other countries around the world. He expressed hope that the best practices and experiences from The Gambia will serve as a reference for South Sudan. The Minister of Justice of South Sudan briefed the Chief Justice and his team on the steps under consideration or being undertaken in South Sudan as part of their transitional justice process.
In welcoming the South Sudanese delegation, Chief Justice Jallow noted that The Gambia has been in transition since the change of government in 2017. He told the delegation that The Gambia has undertaken a series of reforms since 2017, among them; the civil service reforms, security sector reforms and the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission. He explained that The Gambia’s transitional justice program places much emphasis on reconciliation and accountability with the Judiciary playing a central role in this process. On the Constitutional Review Agenda, the Chief Justice noted that all hope is not lost for the rejected draft constitution as all stakeholders are encouraged to give it a fresh try.
At the level of the Judiciary, the Gambian jurist outlined key reforms including strengthening the tenure of judges, ensuring independence of the Judiciary and mode of appointment as well as indigenization of the Judiciary and expansion of courts countrywide to improve access to justice.
The reforms undertaken by the transition, Chief Justice Jallow added, include enhancing the capacity of staff of the Gambian Judiciary to enhance service delivery. He also highlighted that there has been a change of perception of the judiciary and this is expected to restore public and stakeholder confidence. He acknowledged that the Judiciary receives a lot of help and interest from the current government.
Looking forward, the Chief Justice expressed hope that by January, the National Assembly will approve a proposal to fund a special criminal division to try TRRC cases. The Chief Justice expressed the need for the Judiciary to have such a division in order to ensure speedy disposal of such cases and leave a legacy for the Judiciary and the country from such a process. The proposed Hybrid court, Chief Justice Jallow said will try high level cases that cannot be tried in the Gambia for legal or other factors.