|Magistrate Ebrima Jaiteh, charged|
Senior magistrate Ebrima Jaiteh's judicial independence is both a challenge and a source of frustration to a highly repressive regime. As we have reported recently, magistrate Jaiteh ruled in favor of several accused persons that were before his court who the regime wanted jailed.
Two specific cases cited were those involving two members of the senior management of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) and the other involving Imam Moheideen Hydara. In both instances, the accused were acquitted and discharged by magistrate Ebrima Jaiteh at the displeasure of a regime.
It is a regime that has used the judiciary as a weapon of repression, using mercenary judges, primarily from Nigeria, to the bidding for the dictatorship. Opponents of the regime have been framed and brought before the courts with the specific instructions from either the Minister of Justice or the Director of Public Prosecutor and, on occasions, directly from the dictator to the magistrate or the judge. Judicial interference is the norm in The Gambian judiciary.
In the Gambia, magistrates and judges receive instructions from the Gambian dictator through the Justice Ministry or directly to those presiding over cases. Thus, when senior magistrate Jaiteh problems was certain to occur because he was independent and wanted t dispense justice without fear or favor. In dictatorships, independent-minded judges and magistrates are likely to run into the problems that the senior magistrate find himself in. His only crime is being of independent mind.
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