Tuesday, November 28, 2023



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The attempt to get judicial decision for lawyers to appear before district tribunals did not meet the approval of the high court.

However, the judgment pronounced by Justice Sainabou Cisse-Wadda was an indictment of the district tribunal system. This is an opportunity for the Barrow administration to embrace a reform agenda that will do away with the colonial legacy.

District tribunals have criminal jurisdiction and where the liberty of an accused person is at stake, protection of the law must be given to ensure that justice is done and is seen to be done. This is why the Criminal Procedure Code provides for prosecution to make a case and defence to rebut allegations and affirm innocence.

Suffice it to say, without knowledge legal protection becomes slim. This is why justice is enhanced under a criminal justice system by ensuring that an accused person has the right to legal counsel. In the absence of such a right miscarriage of justice cannot be fully averted.

District tribunals should therefore be subjected to reform. The first most important one is to divest them of criminal jurisdiction without delay.

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Secondly, if they are going to continue to conduct judicial proceedings they must be put under the administration of the judiciary. This would require constitutional reform in the appointment and removal of the presidents of district tribunals.

The debate should therefore continue on how to reform the colonial structures and bring them into conformity with the requirements of a republic.

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