By Mariama Marong
Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of Banjul High Court has called on lawyers from both prosecution and defence to better prepare for the next legal term by avoiding undue delays in trials.
The month of July is set aside for the hearing of criminal cases. While presiding over some criminal cases on Monday, 25th July, Justice Jaiteh addressed some of the lawyers who appeared before him.
He preached that, lawyers should improve on their work to ensure that there is no undue delay in the dispensation of justice. He stressed that gone are days when trials last for several years before the determination of justice.
“Lawyers need to put their house in order. You (the lawyers) should be prepared to stay longer in court than usual to ensure time is not wasted and justice is not delayed,” Jaiteh said.
He reminded them of the fundamentals of criminal trials and that trials should be done within a reasonable time. He stressed that accused persons in criminal trials need to know their fate early adding that is in the best interest of the prosecution and defence.
“It is unfair to keep people at Mile 2 for long without knowing their fate. And justice should be served to ensure that the guilty serve their punishment and the innocent to be free,” Jaiteh said.
He said it is improper to have a long trial on a matter that could end within a year or some months. He lamented that the system should be changed to ensure justice is not delayed.
He stressed that every person brought before the court, especially those facing criminal trials, has fundamental rights that should be upheld at all times. He said his court would do its utmost to hear cases within reasonable and will afford every party a fair trial.
“It is not right to delay trials,” he said.
He pointed out that justice delay is not right and he wouldn’t accept delay because he would ensure the rights of people are respected at all times. He stated that it is high time that the courts hear cases within a year in order to protect the rights of people and at the end of the day, ensure that justice is served.