Vance Center Engages The Gambian Judiciary in Adjudicating Corruption and Economic Crimes

March 2021

The Vance Center and the International Center for Transitional Justice convened a workshop forĀ  30 judges in the Gambia, focusing on the importance of transitional justice in fighting corruption and economic crimes. The workshop manifested the judiciary’s effort to promote good governance, build confidence, and strengthen its capacity.

With a population of 2 million, the Gambia is undergoing a concerted, critical transition from the 22-year autocratic rule of Yahya Jammeh. The Janneh Commission of Inquiry on Economic Crimes began in July 2017, and the Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparation Commission became active in January 2019, shedding light on the human rights violations committed during Jammeh’s dictatorial reign from 1994 to 2017.

As the commissions approached the end of their work, the workshop aimed to reinforce the capacity of judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, and the High Court, as well as the Chief Magistrate, and Chief Sheriff of the Gambia, to adjudicate transnational cases of corruption and related offenses.

In the workshop’s opening ceremony, Supreme Court Judge Janneh presented remarks on behalf of Hassan Bubacar Jallow, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Gambia, explaining that corruption represents the most severe obstacle to democracy and sustainable development and underscoring the need to build allies and learn from global efforts against corruption.

Experts (Ruben Carranza from ICTJ, John Gilkes), lawyers (Anne Murray and Kelly Newsome from Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP), Jeffrey Cottle from Norton Rose Fulbright LLP and Marilyn Batonga from Baker McKenzie,) and in-house counsel (Inviolata Oriwo from Novartis) as well as a judge of the Ghanaian judiciary, presented and answered questions from the attending judges. Hon. Justice Awa Bah JSC, Hon. Justice Raymond Sock JSC, Hon. Justice Omar Njie PCA, Hon. Justice Amina Saho Ceesay, Hon. Justice Mary Mam Yassin Sey JSC, and Hon. Justice Sainabou Wadda – Cisse J moderated the sessions, covering a range of topics: the link between economic crime and transitional justice; bribery and extortion; asset forfeiture; anti-corruption Investigations; and case management systems to improve the efficiency of the judiciary in tackling financial crimes in the Gambia.

Justice Mary Mam Yassin Sey of the Gambian Supreme Court presented the local perspective on tackling corruption, recommending the speedy passage of the Anti-Corruption Act and reiterating the need for the judiciary to prioritize economic crimes. She also advised that the reports of the Parliamentary Committee on Corruption, the transitional justice commissions, and other integrity institutions should be made public.

ICTJ’s Gambia Head of Program Didier Gbery and Vance Center Africa Program Manager Adaobi Egboka organized the workshop with a four-person Technical Committee from the Gambian judiciary, headed by Justice Amina Saho of the Gambia High Court. The workshop concluded with remarks by Honorable Justice Hassan Bubacar Jallow, the Chief Justice of the Gambia.

The Chubb Rule of Law Fund provided support for the workshop.