By Rohey Jadama
“The Gambia is a country where there is a Constitution that emphasises justice delivery and its policy is based on the rule of law,” said Chief Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan to the 27 graduates of the Gambia Law School who were being called to the Gambian bar.
Addressing the new entrants to the legal profession at the third call to the bar ceremony held on the 20 January 2015 at the High Court premises in Banjul, the head of the Gambian judiciary told them that as legal practitioners, they “act as buffers between the litigants for pursuing their lawful rights, in an organized and civilized manner.”
Chief Justice Chowhan added “this is called observance of the rule of law.”
He said the Gambia Institute of Judicial Training and Research is now functioning in its own premises imparting training and helps in building capacity and that a web-site for the Gambian case law is being developed with the help of UNDP which is at an advance stage.
Chief Justice Chowhan said this will help in research and also speed up the writing of advance erudite judgments and arguments.
The Chief Justice added that the codification of customary law is another area of great concern which is advised by the judiciary and that work is in progress under the aegis of EU. He further revealed that they are working with UNICEF in establishing a model Children’s Court.
He welcomed them to the profession where, he said, they are expected to work hard and keep the ethics as part of their work and deliberations.
Mrs .Fatou Mbye, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, delivered the statement of the President of the republic, which described the event as another milestone in the national drive to create a sustainable pool of highly trained Gambians, especially in the legal sector to advance the country’s economic growth and social development.
“From now on you will be judged by your actions and attitude towards those who need and seek your professional assistance. Your actions and attitude will dictate how society views you, either as upright lawyers or as opportunistic and self-serving ones”, said the president.
The president said if the graduates adhere to their ethics of the profession and guided by their conscience, they will serve this country with honour and dignity.
President Jammeh said their cannot be any development without peace and security and peace and security have to be created and nurtured through social imperatives like the rule of law and equitable dispensation of justice.
For her part, Madam Mama Fatima Singhateh, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, told the new legal practitioners that professional misconduct will not be condone and that any lawyer who is found to have acted in contravention of any laws of the Gambia, much more to the detriment of their clients or any litigant will be severely dealt with.
“I would like to remind you that the legal profession is a noble one and full of traditions and ethics. You should always be guided by honesty, truthfulness, fairness, integrity, transparency and always be ready to be accountable for your actions,” said the Justice Minister.
She urged the graduates to continue to engage in professional development and to explore the horizons of the profession. She added that recently her ministry had finalized their strategic plan with support from UNDP in order to provide a more focused direction to the attainment of its mandate.
Abdourahman Bah was awarded the overall best student who won the Advocacy Skills, Criminal Procedure, and Law of Evidence. The other students who won awards were Deo Patience Candia on Legal drafting and Conveyance, Mansour Jobe on Criminal Procedure, Patrick Gomez, Company Law and Commercial Practices and Ya Amie Touray on Professional Conduct, Law Office Management and Solicitor’s Accounts.