By Landing Ceesay
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Gambia Hassan B. Jallow has said that commenting on an ongoing court case is forbidden, reporting facts of a case is permitted.
“Comments on an ongoing court case are forbidden. There should be reporting of the facts but not comments. Fair and accurate reporting of the facts is what is permitted. Unfortunately, some senior members of the legal profession are themselves guilty of infringement of these rules regrettably,” he said.
The Chief Justice stressed the importance of the rule that bars commenting of a case underway in court.
“The rule is a very important one, and it is designed to reinforce the independence and the impartiality of the judiciary and of the judges as they preside over cases,” Justice Jallow said.
He said it is a very challenging task to be called upon to preside over a case saying, “it would be very helpful if the presiding judge does not at the same time have to face this constant bombardment of criticism or comments which is very often unfair and inaccurate”.
Justice Jallow urged everybody to desist from the act and said reporting of court cases is of a course permissible, but must be accurate and fair.
“When the cases are concluded everybody is free to comment on the outcome. But fairly and accurately. I urge everybody to prepare that in mind, and to respect those rules, particularly members of the Bar. The members of the Bar have to set an example on this and the rule is quite clear as far as the Bar is concerned.
“The Code of Conduct says specifically under rule 44 that while a suit or matter is sub-judiciary, a legal practitioner shall desist from interacting with the Press or other Media regarding the suit or matter. That is very clear and is even more stringent than the comment made by the public,” the Chief Justice said.
The Gambian Cheif made these remarks earlier Friday during the enrollment of legal practitioners by the General Legal Council of the Gambia.