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GAMBIA: CHIEF JUSTICE & JUDGES TO GET “FULLY FURNISHED” HOMES UNDER BILL PROPOSED BY JUSTICE MINISTER

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The Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Gambia, Dawda A. Jallow, has introduced a bill to the National Assembly that would provide fully furnished houses, including utilities, to the Chief Justice and judges without charge or an allowance thereof while they are in office.

The Judicial Officers Remuneration and Other Entitlements Bill, 2023, was tabled before the National Assembly for its first reading on Monday, September 4, 2023. The bill, if enacted, would provide for the Chief Justice or Judges to be paid sums in respect of incidental expenses, including telephone and robbing allowance. It would also seek to have the Chief Justice receive per diem and allowances equivalent to those paid to the Vice President of the Gambia for meetings, seminars, and conferences held abroad that relate to the administration of justice.

“(a) in the case of the Chief Justice, at the same rate and with the benefits as is for the time being prescribed for the Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia;”

Supreme Court justices will be reimbursed for their daily living expenses (per diems) at the same rate as cabinet members when they attend conferences abroad.

“(b) in the case of a Judge of the Supreme Court, at the rate and with the same benefit as is for the time being prescribed for a Minister of State;”

Judges in lower courts and magistrates will also be eligible for per diem payments when they travel abroad for work-related purposes, according to the bill.

“In the case of any other Judge, at the rate and with the same benefit as is for the time being prescribed for a Permanent Secretary; and in the case of a Magistrate or a Cadi, at the general rate and with the same benefit as is for the time being prescribed for civil servants,”

The bill provides for a judicial officer who is posted outside Banjul, Kanifing Municipality, and the Kombos to receive a special allowance to cover incidental expenses incurred in the performance of their duties outside these areas. The bill also provides for an acting allowance to be paid to a judicial officer who is temporarily filling the position of a substantive holder.

“A Judicial Officer who, while performing his or her functions, attends at any place other than the City of Banjul, Kanifing Municipality, or the West Coast Region, shall be paid an allowance in respect of such travel expenses at a rate as may from time to time be determined by the Commission in the Regulation; A Judicial Officer shall not be paid a travel allowance for attending at or in the immediate vicinity where he or she resides. A Judicial Officer who applies for the payment of travel allowance shall submit a claim form showing the number of days for which the allowance is claimed,” the bill indicates.

The bill will also provide a Judicial Officer with a moving allowance when they relocate for a new job posting, or when their existing office is transferred to another location, requiring them to change residence.

On the health aspect, the bill seeks to have a judicial officer “be provided with insurance cover in line with the national health insurance scheme for medical treatment for himself or herself only. Where specialist treatment is needed which is not available in The Gambia, as may be confirmed by a medical board report, a judicial officer as other members of the public service be considered for treatment abroad.”

If passed, the bill will provide a Judge, the Chairman of the Court of Appeal Panel; the Judicial Secretary and Deputy Judicial Secretary, the Master, the Sheriff, and Chief Magistrate to be provided with a chauffeur-driven vehicle.

In addition, the judiciary will be provided with sufficient fuel to efficiently discharge its duties. After a period of five years, the judiciary may purchase the vehicle at the depreciated rate, subject to the government’s vehicle policy.

The bill said that, subject to the public service loan scheme, a magistrate or cadi is entitled to a car and house loan.

Provision for adequate security and protection is made for judges who retire at the age of seventy and above for the rest of their lives.

“A Judge shall be provided such security as shall be adequate for the protection of his or her person and residence; and a Judge who retires between the ages of seventy and seventy-five shall continue to be provided such security for the rest of his or her life,”

By Landing Ceesay

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