The Gambia Government has issued a statement to clarify the controversy over the payment of two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) to past and present senior officials of the Ministry of Justice who are serving as counsels in the genocide case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
The government dispatch dated 19th April 2021 stated that contrary to widespread allegation of corruption, the funds were legally paid to the officials as honorarium for jointly prosecuting the case against Myanmar.
“The sum of $200,000 has been paid by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as honorarium to the Gambian Legal team participating in the case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). For the records, The Government of The Gambia wishes to clarify that the case at the ICJ is being jointly prosecuted by the Washington-based law firm: Foley Hoag and the Gambian Legal team comprising lawyers from the Ministry of Justice and the Legal Counsel at The Gambia’s Mission in New York.
“A budget estimate incorporating the honorarium to be paid alongside the fees of Foley Hoag was submitted and approved by the OIC. Based on the complexities of cases of this nature, it is acceptable practice to have multiple legal teams collaborate as in this case before the ICJ. The Gambia leads the case through its Agent, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the rest of the team as Counsel. In fact, this is the first ever honorarium paid to the Gambian legal team since the inception of the case against Myanmar in October 2019,” the government statement said.
The dispatch further indicated that following written notification by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, the Executive gave its consent for the Gambian Legal team to receive the honorarium from the OIC. Also, contrary to allegations that the money was donated by Bangladesh to The Gambia, the government said neither Bangladesh nor any other country donated money with regard to this case.
“Instead, The OIC had opened an account for the case and requested member states to contribute to that account to fund the legal fees for the case against Myanmar. The contribution made by Bangladesh and other countries are paid to the OIC special account and not directly to The Gambia as alleged,” the dispatch stated.