By Landing Ceesay
The President of the Gambia Bar Association (GBA), Salieu Taal has urged members to be very mindful in their social media engagements to ensure that the integrity and standing of the profession is not undermined in the process.
“Today, one of the greatest opportunities and threats to the future of the bar is the advent of information technology, particularly social media. On one hand, technology has enabled us to work and collaborate much faster and efficiently. On the other hand, we have seen how social media is impacting every facet of our lives and the legal profession is not an exception. We have seen how cases become sensationalised and the court of Facebook republic directing populist narratives potentially exposing and endangering judges, lawyers and undermining confidence in the administration of justice.
“The private bar, bench and state law office have a collective duty to address this menace. At the individual level, I will urge my colleagues, learned friends to be very mindful in their social media engagements to ensure that the integrity and standing of the profession is not undermined in the process,” Salieu Taal, GBA President said.
Mr. Taal said it is time that both the Bar and the bench develop a social media policy to guide legal practitioners and judges in the use of social media.
He further recommended a stakeholder engagement with media including the online media platforms to sensitise them on the workings of the courts, the legal profession and justice sector as a whole.
Taal further stated that the legal practitioners are first and foremost officers of the court and therefore duty bound to promote justice and uphold the rule of law.
“This is a responsibility that you must not take lightly. As we forge ahead to consolidate our democratic gains from 2017 to date, lawyers have a very important role to play in shaping our governance institutions and in rebuilding our democratic culture. To this end, we must guard and protect the independence of the judiciary and continue to uphold the rule of law. I urge you to take keen interest in understanding how the three arms of government work and be familiar with the constitution regardless of what area of law you may find yourself practising,” he said.
The Bar Association President said professional ethics is the foundation of legal practice, in the absence of which, the entire profession is brought to a disrepute.
He said as legal practitioners, they will not enjoy the confidence of their clients, the public, or citizenry, if they fall short of the ethical standards of behaviour or conduct expected of a legal practitioner.
Mr. Taal said as they grow as a profession, maintaining professional ethical standards, values and the traditions of the bar becomes increasingly challenging.
He said they must embrace change and adapt to their fast-changing environment, the core values of the profession must be jealously guarded.
The Gambia Bar Association President made these remarks during the enrollment of legal practitioners by the General Legal Council of the Gambia on Friday.