Posted by / Monday 19 December 2016 / No comments

The factors that militate against Rule of Law in The Gambia

Definition of rule of Law
Rule of law has two definitions, the classical meaning as proposed by A. V. Dicey and the modern definition by the New Delhi declaration in 1959 at a meeting of the International Commission of Jurists.

According to A. V. Dicey, in his classical opinion, Rule of Law means the law is supreme. In other words, the law is the highest authority of the land in the absence of which nothing else can prevail. For example, the law does not reside in the bosom of anybody.

The contemporary definition, as developed by the International Commission of Jurists states that it is the conditions, structures, institutions, processes and procedures that must exist so that the individual can enjoy his life in dignity, security and prosperity.

Immunity before the law
Another factor that limits the full realization of Rule of Law is the immunity against prosecution which some categories of citizens enjoy. Diplomats who fall foul of the law in their host country are exempt from trial in the host country. Parliamentarians also enjoy immunity from prosecution for acts performed in the course carrying out their legitimate duties. They not also be arrest to or from parliament.

Delays in court
In the Gambia, there are too may delays in court. One case can take several years before it can be dealt with. Some litigants would rather let matters be than to battle it in the law courts. This is an affront to the practice of Rule of Law. Such delays limit the full realization of rule of Law.

Level of poverty
The general level of poverty in the Gambia is so widespread that issues of bread and butter are of more importance to the people than the pursuit of fundamental human rights in the courts of law. Besides, if they want to fight for their rights, they may not have the necessary resources to pay the legal services that it might entail.

Absence of Legal Aid
The modern definition of Rule of Law indicates that the individual must have access to legal advice. Where he cannot pay for his services avenues must be created for the realization of that goal. However, the level of legal aid in the Gambia is not adequate to carter for the mass of the people. Therefore, they are left without being attended to. Under such a situation, Rule of Law cannot be said to be properly functioning.

The level of illiteracy of citizens
One of the factors that prevent the full realization of the practice of Rule of Law is the high level of illiteracy of the citizens, especially in the developing world. For some citizens, Rule of Law could as well be an animal living in the forest, they just do not care. Such people do not see the reason why they should care about whether the government stays within the confines of the law or not.

Lack of independence for state institutions
The absence of absolute judicial independence in the Gambia is also preventing the full implementation of the Rule of Law. The military junta under President Yahya Jameh has entrenched itself in power for 22 years and has succeeded in dominating the state institutions of the land and rendered them ineffective. In the recent elections that were held where Yahya Jameh lost, he later dissolved the Electoral commission and tried to run the election afresh. Even if he did not succeed, such actions are affronts to Rule of Law.

1. Explain five factors that militate against the full implementation of Rule of Law in Your country.

2. What five factors prevent the full realization of Rule of Law in the Gambia?

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