The leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP) on Thursday briefed the European Union delegation at Brikama Magistrate’Court. At the time of the briefings, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe was defending Lasana Jobarteh, his party’s media and press officer. Mr Jobarteh was detained for over a week without a charge after covering a joint rally by opposition parties in Brikama last year. The court was scheduled to deliver judgement on Jobarteh’s broadcasting without licence charge case on Thursday June 19th but adjoined it to June 26 this year. The EU delegates we’re in court to see the extent of legal draconian maneuvering the government of President Jammeh utilizes to oppress Gambians. EU officials were in the Gambia to familiarize themselves with governance issues and the legal framework of the country. Lawyer Darboe was asked about the overall legal environment in the country. He said the law in the Gambia is a different kettle of fish as compared to the one in a real democratic country. He said there are excellent magistrate and judges in the country. However, the environment they operates in is not conducive for fairness and just dispensation of justice at all times. Politically motivated cases are usually adjourned on a weekly basis to frustrate the defense counsel’s and the accused rroutinely. Lawyer Dearborn was questioned about the number of politically connected cases he has been handling. His answer has shocked the EU delegates to the bone. “Nearly all my court appearances are politically related, my party supporters are arrested and charged on flimsy and trumped up cases and the ruling takes needlessly long,” Darboe said, making reference to the recent acquittal of his party’s supporters by a Magistrate in Brikama. He expects such a sane ruling will continue.” The EU delegates are well aware of the general atmosphere in the country as evidenced by the fear induced political climate resulting to many people to refrain from commenting on vital issues. Ends
This issue of using the criminal justice system to persecute opponents is specifically targeting mandinkas rather than the UDP per se, and it needs to be told as such.
One PDOIS supporter, a non-mandinka, was also charged with sedition just like Amadou Sanneh but he was given bail while Sanneh was denied. Prior to his court appearance, jammeh issued a threat against the mandinkas. The judge in the case denied bail saying that the case is sensitive but the only sensitive issue there is Sanneh’s mandinka identity. Therefore, it is Sanneh’s mandinka identity that was the problem. Make no mistake about that; the fight is against the mandinka ethnic group in The Gambia.