ARE THE ARRESTED SOLDIERS EXCLUDED FROM THE DICTATES OF SECTION 19 OF THE CONSTITUTION?

116

Section 4 of the Constitution is clear and unambiguous. It states that the Constitution is the supreme law of The Gambia and any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.

All those arrested without exception should be taken to a court of law within 72 hours and any further detention after 72 hours must be done by a court. The reason for this is simple. Law enforcers could also be prosecutors. They are not judges. They are the ones who must gather evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a certain accused person is culpable in the commission of a crime.

It is a court that is required to be independent and impartial in determining a crime. It is such impartiality which enables the court to consider evidence before ordering further detention of any accused person. It is therefore necessary to review any procedures for the trial of soldiers before a court-martial so as to bring them into conformity with the demands of the Constitution.

We should be reminded that history is recording every development in the criminal justice system and would give its verdict for posterity. We should not be found wanting in doing what the Constitution requires without fair or favour, affection or ill will.