So another Judge decided to wash her hands off the abomination that is the trial of Fatou Jaw Manneh. Ever since her arrest and detention and the subsequent proffering of seditious charges against her, three magistrates and now a judge have decided that they don’t want to touch the case with a ten foot pole. They kept transferring her from one courtroom to another without any adjudication…
If there is a victim in this case besides the accused, it is the rule of law in the Gambia. It makes no sense from a legal standpoint whether the accuse is innocent or guilty to keep transferring her case from one magistrate court to another as if they operate in separate sovereign entities. However it tells us something about the character of the men and women who are entrusted with adjudicating and upholding the rule of law in the Gambia. They are scared of their own shadows due to the authoritarian climate under which they ply their trade. Instead of standing to uphold their oath of impartiality, they keep passing the buck.
Suppose, for the sake of argument that Fatou Jaw is guilty of insulting the president. What harm has it done to the image of the man that is worse than the one he inflicted upon himself with the witch doctor masquerade he has been putting up lately?
Now suppose that she is innocent (I subscribe to this notion). Isn’t it unconscionable to have this damning charge hanging over her head for a year while scared straight judges bounce the case from one another like a ping pong ball.
The Gambian constitution includes a right to a speedy trial. This provision is supposed to keep people from being jerked around by unscrupulous and vindictive prosecutors who cannot prove that they have committed any crime. Prosecutors have to put up or shut up. In this case unfortunately, it is not only prosecutorial malfeasance, but the bench is acting cowardly as well.
You couldn’t find a better case that fits the old cliché that justice delayed is justice denied.