THE EXPULSION OF DIEDRICH: ANOTHER MANIFESTATION OF UNCONSTITUTIONAL BEHAVIOUR

While the government continues its mobilization of support to denounce those who use unconstitutional means to remove it from power, it continues to display all forms of unconstitutional behaviour.

In 2014 as in previous years there have been countless detentions without trial beyond the constitutional time limit of 72 hours. Section 19 subsection (3)(b) of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia stipulates that any person who is arrested or detained and “is not released, shall be brought without undue delay before a court and, in any event, within seventy-two hours.”

This provision has been treated with disregard in the past and is still being treated with disregard. As a consequence, many who have been picked up by men in plain clothes who claim to be from the NIA have simply gone out of sight. This is impunity.

Furthermore, the high court delivered judgment in favour of Bern Georg Diedrich, a German national who purchased land in Wullingkama, Kombo North District, and gave an order that no person should interfere with the land. On the contrary, the rule of might prevailed over the rule of law when officials from the physical planning department accompanied by PIU personnel evicted Mr. Diedrich from his land by executive order; while the Constitution, under Section 120(4) requires the Government and all departments and agencies of the Government to “accord such assistance to the courts as the courts may reasonably require to protect their independence, dignity and effectiveness.”

In short, for the government talk of unconstitutional behavior to gain credibility it must learn to behave in accordance with the Constitution and the Law.

It must release all those that have been detained contrary to the Constitution, particularly the relatives of suspects of the December 30 incident. It must also wash its hands off the Diedrich affair and leave litigants to battle it out in the courts. This is why courts are made independent of any person or authority as stated in Section 120(3) of the Constitution: “In the exercise of their judicial functions, the courts, the

judges and other holders of judicial office shall be independent and shall be subject only to this Constitution and the law and, save as provided in this Chapter, shall not be subject to the control or direction of any other person or authority.”