Barrow appoints Gambian UN prosecutor as chief justice
President Adama Barrow appointed a Gambian UN prosecutor as chief justice of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, ending a series of controversial foreign appointments to the position by former leader Yahya Jammeh.
Hassan Bubacar Jallow has served in the appeals chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and as a prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania.
Barrow's government had vowed to implement a "Gambianisation" of the justice system after Jammeh named several chief justices from Pakistan and Nigeria.
Foreign judges were regularly accused of kowtowing to the regime because their contracts could be easily terminated, and some were hired to hear a single case only.
"Twenty-two years of injustice and abuse of power require knowledge to ensure that justice is seen to be done as well as reconciliation to give peace a chance," Barrow said as Jallow was sworn in.
His expertise will be called on as Barrow sets up a promised truth and reconciliation commission to hear alleged crimes committed during the Jammeh era, as well as in decisions about any future prosecutions of regime figures.
The United Nations and rights groups have long accused The Gambia's security services of extrajudicial killings, torture, and arbitrary detention.
"At the judiciary, we shall do our utmost to ensure that the justice system meets the expectation of the community and of the required international standards," Jallow said after taking his oath.
The new chief justice was also justice minister under The Gambia's only other president since independence, Dawda Jawara, who was removed by Jammeh in a 1994 coup.
The only other Gambian to hold the post of chief justice was Abdou Karim Savage who served 2006-2009.
Britain has promised support for justice reform in The Gambia after the new government declared it would overhaul its prisons following the release of shocking footage was released of conditions inside.
The country's interior minister led a tour of the notorious Mile Two prison that revealed concrete cells in almost complete darkness where prisoners were living in squalor.