(JollofNews) – The Access to Justice Adviser at International Development Law Organisation (IDLO) lawyer Emmanuel D Joof has urged Gambia’s legal community to play its part in the country’s development process in promoting democracy and rule of law.
“Much is expected from the legal profession and for obvious reasons,” said Thursday lawyer Emmanuel D. Joof while addressing participants at a just concluded Lawyers’ Conference held from Nov.20-21, 2017 at Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi, some 9 km away from Banjul.
Organised by the Ministry of Justice, the two-day event was centred on the theme “Strenghtening Constitutionality and the Rule of Law in The Gambia,” and brought together Gambian lawyers working in and outside the country. The confab also provides an opportunity for participants to reflect on the past two decades and chart the way forward.
The South Sudan-based legal expert said the importance of the role of a Bar Association cannot be overemphasized in spearheading and supporting access to justice initiatives as well as promoting adherence to the principles of rule of law.
“It is a profession that is learned in the law, it is from their ranks that judges are appointed, they advise the government on all legal matters (Attorney General and Ministry of Justice / state law offices), they draft the laws that are passed by Parliament, they represent litigants in court and they prosecute and defend cases,” he
said in an attempt
Gambia’s longtime ruler launched continued efforts geared towards undermining the country’s legal system. Jammeh used Nigerian, Cameroonian judges to drag the judiciary into the abyss of hell, turning it into a tool of oppression.
IDLO Access to Justice Adviser further stated that lawyers play a critical role in the administration of justice at all and every level. He then added that their active and positive involvement in promoting access to justice and adherence to the rule of law should be their paramount objective.
To illustrate his argument, he cited the arrest and detention of many beyond the required 72 hours; the arbitrary and unconstitutional sacking of judges and magistrates; the appointment of considerable number of foreign judges at the judiciary who many perceive as mercenary judges, he said.
Lawyer Emmanuel D. Joof conceded the fact that the stance taken by the BAR on Dec.13, 2016 gto challenge Jammeh’s dramatic U-turn was revolutionary and constitutes a turning point in Gambia’s political history.
“The Gambia Bar Association stated in no uncertain terms that the pronouncement of the former head of state tantamount to treason and demanded that he respect the will of the Gambian people and step down,” he said.
The move, which propelled the Gambia Bar Association in a position of catalyst for change, provided an opportunity for other democratic organisations to rally behind Coalition 2016.
“Gambians from all quarters and many organizations and association followed suit and issued similar statements demanding that the former head of state step down,” Joof reminded his audience.
In fine, lawyer Emmanuel D. Joof made it clear that all should be guardians of the rule of law. “It is not something one surrenders to the legislature, executive and or the Judiciary. CSOs must play an active part in the entire process of governance if we are going to safeguard our fundamental rights and freedoms.”