Lagos lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, has commended Gambian President, Mr. Adama Barrow, for appointing Justice Hassan Bubacarr Jallow as the country’s new Chief Justice.
Justice Hassan Jallow was sworn in by Mr. Barrow last Wednesday, making him the second Gambian to occupy the office. Reacting to the appointment, Mr. Falana said the task of rebuilding confidence in the Gambian judiciary is an onerous one, given that the country was a human rights sinkhole for 22 years under the immediate past president, Mr. Yahaya Jammeh.
“No doubt, the task of rebuilding the judiciary in The Gambia after 22 years of authoritarian rule is daunting. But having worked closely with Justice Hassan Jallow in the Africa Group on Justice and Accountability (AGJA), I have no doubt that he has the capacity to serve his country with commitment and distinction. His Lordship will certainly enjoy the cooperation of the Gambian Bar Association, which has been in the forefront in defense of the rule of law and independence of the judiciary,” said Mr. Falana.
Justice Jallow was the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General under the administration of former President Dauda Jawara, who was ousted via a coup led by immediate past president, Mr. Yahaya Jammeh, in 1994.
He also served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of The Gambia before his appointment as a United Nations prosecutor in Rwanda.
Justice Jallow is the current Chair of the Africa Group on Justice and Accountability (AGJA).
His appointment has been hailed as a plus for the judiciary in West Africa. The decision of his country to return as a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), from which the country withdrew under Mr. Jammeh, is widely viewed as a sign that the Barrow-led administration, is determined to end impunity in the country.
Though the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights is located in Banjul, the Gambian capital, the country’s human rights record under Mr. Jammeh was distinctively wretched. Over the years, Gambian courts and judicial officers were compromised, resulting in a loss of confidence by the citizens. Many were compelled to seek relief in the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). While many won their cases, the government refused to comply with the judgments of the court.