By Landing Ceesay
The Judiciary of the Gambia, on Thursday February 8th, 2023, inaugurated a new Law Court Complex in Bundung in the Kanifing Municipality (KM) to hear and adjudicate both criminal and civil matters.
The New Law Court Complex will ease access to Justice in the region and comprises 6 courtrooms, 3 for the High Court, 2 for the Magistrates Courts, 1 for the Cadi Court, and offices for Judges, Magistrates, Cadi, and their Support Staff.
The Complex is built for thirty-one Million seventy-three thousand four hundred and seventy-five dalasis which includes the cost of furniture and equipment to provide standard infrastructure to the Court.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Hon. Hassan B. Jallow, the Chief Justice of the Gambia said the new Court complex would ease access to Justice for the People of Bundung and the Kanifing Municipality at large.
“With the inauguration today of this complex, we are confident that it will make a significant impact within the Kanifing Municipal Council Area on these two challenges. It will provide additional courtroom space. There are six additional courtrooms in this complex housing a high court, magistrates courts, as well as cardi courts.
“Located within the community itself in this major urban area. It will provide easier access for the community to the doors of justice, instead of having to travel to Banjul to have their matters attended to. These 6 courtrooms in this particular complex almost double the capacity of the judiciary within the Kanifing Municipal Area,” Hon. Chief Justice said.
Meanwhile, Hon. Baboucarr Boye, the Minister Responsible for Public Service, who was deputizing for the president said his government continues to provide the necessary infrastructure for the Judiciary.
“My government will remain steadfastly committed to providing the necessary infrastructure for the judiciary to enable them to discharge its responsibilities for efficient justice delivery. Aside from today’s inauguration ceremony, we are working closely with the judiciary to identify suitable pieces of land to allocate for the construction of Brikama and Kerewan law court complexes,” he said.
Hon. Boye said they plan to improve the standard of the existing courts, including but not limited to digitalization and automation of court records and proceedings, backed by the availability of sufficient networks, and adequate internet infrastructure for the smooth functioning of the courts.
“I will continue to underscore my government’s commitment to strengthening the judiciary to entrench the rule of law and promote good governance. It is only through such innovative approaches and collaborative efforts that we can consolidate our democracy. As the courts are the last resort to seek redress, I assure you that we will never fail to prioritize respect for the rule of law, access to quality justice for all, and accountability for a better legal system,” Hon. Boye said.
Hon. Boye said the occasion provides an opportunity to observe the interests of the general public and the best way to sustain justice and peace is to act within the law.
He said If we support law enforcement officers to carry out their work, they will lower the crime rates, leave peacefully and avoid flooding the courts with cases
Hon. Boye further urged the judiciary and other legal professionals to embark more frequently on programs to educate the public on legal matters and to help the people to understand the law and how it operates.
The Public Service Minister said it is argued that ignorance of the law is no excuse.
“But we must not pretend that all Gambian citizens understand the legal system and know how to avoid breaking the law or seek redress whenever necessary. Working with the media could prove very useful and productive in this regard. We can certainly determine how peaceful the country is, through the incidence of crime. The volume of cases in the courts and the resources spent to settle disputes. The higher the rate of compliance with the law among the people, the more peaceful we are, and the more time we shall have to focus attention on more important development matters,” he said.
The construction of the new Law Court Complex started on the 20th of January 2020 and was completed in June 2022.
As part of its decentralization project, The Judiciary of the Gambia would Officially take over the land allocated for the construction of the law court complexes in Brikama and Kerewan in the West Coast Region and North Bank Region Respectively.