Gambian president Adama Barrow who has vowed to conduct widespread democratic reforms in his country has sworn in former UN Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and Former Yugoslavia as his Chief Justice.
Hassan B Jallow, second Gambian national to have been appointed chief justice since independence, has been described by justice minister Sheriff Tambedou as “a man of impeccable character and integrity and of international scholarly repute”.
Barrow who went to polls against Gambia’s throwback autocrat Yahya Jammeh with the backing of seven opposition political parties has campaign on promises of sweeping reforms of both the country’s laws and democratic institutions, including ensuring the independence of the judiciary.
Jammeh who refused to step down after his election defeat until he was forced out by regional forces, was accused of human rights abuses including killings and enforced disappearances.
His regime has been accused of compromising the rule of law and not respecting the orders of the courts.
Judges are usually appointed by the executive and those that rule against the state risk being fired and arrested, a trend Barrow promised to change.
Thus the justice minister assured the chief justice that the “government will strongly encourage strict compliance and enforcement without reservation decisions rendered by our justice system for or against the government”.
- Jallow studied law at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, the Nigerian Law School, and University College London.
- In 1982, he was appointed the Solicitor General of the Gambia. He was Attorney General and Minister of Justice for the Gambia from 1984 to 1994, and in 1998 he was appointed as a justice of the Supreme Court of the Gambia.
- In 1998, the United Nations Secretary-General appointed Jallow to serve as an international legal expert and carry out a judicial evaluation of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia.
- Jallow was a member of the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal and in 2002 he became a judge of the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
- In 2003, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan selected Jallow and the United Nations Security Council approved him as the prosecutor of the ICTR, succeeding Carla Del Ponte. Jallow is the first ICTR prosecutor to not also be the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
President Barrow said Jammeh’s twenty-two years of “injustices and abuse of power require knowledge to ensure that justice is seen to be done as well as reconciliation to give peace a chance” which is why “the expertise and experience of Chief Justice Jallow is needed”.
“As we pledged to engage in Institutional and legal reforms, I urge you to work hard for us to achieve our goal as a government and leave a legacy of sustained institutions, laws and procedures. This will transform our country into a fully fledge democracy and facilitate social, economic and political development for our people in the New Gambia,” Barrow said.
“The appointment of Hassan Bubacarr Jallow marks the new beginning for judiciary independence in this country,” Tambedou said.
“This is only the first step toward restoring public confidence in our justice system.”
Jallow who is also Gambia’s longest serving justice minister under its first President Jawara assured independence of the judiciary under his watch.
“The president has reiterated his commitment to the independence of the judiciary. This declared commitment of the president and his government to maintain the independence of the judiciary is very reassuring and an excellent starting point for the new Chief Justice,” Jallow said.
“An independent judiciary delivering impartial, effective and visibly expeditious justice is indispensable for the maintenance of the rule of law and without adherence to the rule of law, no community can attain sustained peace and prosperity.”