HOW COURTS PREVENT UNCONSTITUTIONAL BEHAVIOUR?

The courts in East Africa such as Uganda have been assisting to prevent the exercise of executive and legislative powers in excess to constitutional mandates. They have reviewed many laws and declared them to be null and void. This has enabled the judiciary to rectify the mistakes of the executive and thus save its integrity. This has elevated the integrity of the judiciary in those countries and many people are enthusiastic in going to the courts for redress.

Many cases of detention without trial had occurred in the Gambia which feature in the human rights record of the country. The Courts are empowered to put an end to such a practice. Section 17 of the Constitution made it very clear that the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution shall be enforceable by the courts.”

Section 37 also empowers anyone who believes that his or her right has been violated to apply to the High court for redress.

It is now important for Gambians to go to the courts to get declarations on the constitutionality of certain laws and actions. There are many actions which people do and then hide behind the claim that it is an executive order.

Executive order must be based on law and published in the Gazette for general application. Section 5 of the constitution is very clear. It indicates that a person who alleges that a law or an action is inconsistent with the provision of the Constitution may bring an action in court for a declaration of its unconstitutionality.

Every Republic needs unions of lawyers for the defence of freedoms and rights in particular and the constitution in general. This is what keeps a Republican Constitution alive.