By Yankuba Jallow
The Supreme Court of the Gambia has on Thursday 23rd November 2017, dismissed Lawyer Ousainou Darboe and others’ case by dismissing the claims in its entirety.
In this matter, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe and others were the Applicants whilst the Inspector General of Police was the first Respondent and the Attorney General, the 2nd Respondent.
When the case was called before the Supreme Court Judges headed by the Chief Justice of The Gambia, Hassan B. Jallow; Antouman AB Gaye, Lawyers Hawa Sisay-Sabally, Yassin Senghore, Nene MC Cham, Combeh Gaye and Anna Njie all announced their appearance for the plaintiffs (Lawyer Darboe and others) and Binga D. announced his representation for the State.
Darboe and others instituted the suit for the court to declare certain provisions of the law unconstitutional. The Sections under contention were Section 9 of the Public Order Act and Section 69 of the Criminal Code of The Gambia; that they are in contravention of the Constitutional provision under Section 25, which deals with freedom of association, among others.
In delivering the Judgment, the Chief Justice held that all the provisions of the law that the plaintiffs were seeking for the Court to declare unconstitutional, are Constitutional in their entirety. He said the provisions under Section 25, guarantees freedom of speech, conscience, assembly, association and movement. The restrictions according to the Supreme Court are reasonably justifiable in the Constitution. The Court held that the Law mandates the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to issue a permit to hold processions; that the IGP in giving permit, must be convinced that the issuance will not compromise public order that may lead to breach of peace. He said if anyone is aggrieved of being denied permit to hold a procession by the IGP, the law provides for the aggrieved party to go to the High Court for remedy.
On the issue of Section 69 of the Criminal Code being unconstitutional, the Court held that there is nothing in this Section that is unconstitutional and there is nothing that contravenes the provisions of Section 25 of the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia.
“Accordingly, the Court dismissed all the plaintiffs’ claims and made no order for cost”, he said.
Section 69 of the Criminal Code deals with unlawful assembly whilst Section 9 of the Public Order Act deals with prohibition of conduct conducive to breach of the peace. Lawyer Darboe and co., sought for the Court to declare them as unconstitutional, because those laws contravene section 25 of the 1997 Constitution but the Court dismissed all their claims and declared the said laws Constitutional.