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GAMBIA: SALIEU TAAL SAYS MOJ’S STATEMENT UNDERMINES THE BAR AND THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

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Mr. Salieu Taal, President of The Gambia Bar Association, said the statement from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) undermines the office of the Attorney General and the Bar.

Mr. Taal said when he first saw the statement he thought that someone must have hacked into the MoJ system before reaching out to the ministry;

“I said there was no way that this statement could come from MoJ because for me it was not the language that I will ever hear that could come out of MoJ. As the president of the Bar, I engage the parties concerned when I saw it and it appears that, that statement was not supposed to go out. Of course, the MoJ takes ownership of the statement because it bears their letterhead but definitely it crossed the line,” Mr. Taal told the For The People By The People Show.

He said the ministry of Justice headed by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General has no business delving into politics, especially partisan politics;

“The statement Mr. Darboe made was made in a political environment. So the statement could have just stopped at talking about the right of the president to establish a commission. But I think delving into matters that were personal and below the belt, I think that was definitely uncalled for and improper, and really undermines the independence of the office of the Attorney General and even the Bar,” he said.

While he described the MoJ statement as disappointing, he said it shouldn’t have come from the ministry addressing the person of Lawyer Ousainu Darbo, who he described as the most senior lawyer in the country;

“It was very very disappointing, is just that is not every issue we take into the public domain but we did express our concerns about the statement and of course, the UDP responded. For us, is like Mr. Darboe is now the most senior lawyer in the country because Mr. Janneh has retired. So, Mr. Darboe technically is the most senior lawyer from the jurisdiction if am not wrong. So the ministry of Justice issuing a discouraging statement against the person of Mr. Darboe, even if he’s a politician, and for the UDP to issue a statement against the Ministry of Justice. So I clearly think that statement should not have come from the Ministry of Justice,” he said.

Mr. Taal said the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) advises the government on matters of law and thus should stay in the matters of law;

“If the president or executive wants to say that statement let Mr. Sankareh write the statement and sign it. It’s a political adviser that can do that political stuff but the minister of Justice advises the government on matters of law and should stay in the matters of law. It is regrettable, it should have not happened. And of course, when it happened the other side responded, they went to town and that undermines the office, it undermines the administration of justice and a lot of good work have been done in this area. For me am really concerned and I hope that we can draw lessons from it and it doesn’t happen again,” he concluded.

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