Njundu Drammeh

(JollofNews) – Above all priorities, I place legal reforms…. The law sets the pace and creates the environment for any other reform the Government wants to do….. “Is it within the law?” is a question that will pop up all the time, the touchstone we will subject every move, every action….

And since the law governs our lives, and life is in constant move, our lives and the law will perpetually interact. Even when we die, law plays a role. So if the law or an aspect of it is out of sync with our lives, with our new aspirations and realities, then we have to change the law or that aspect of it to ensure a better and more dignified lives for the people. The purpose of the law I think, apart from a better ordering of our lives and those we interact with, is to maximise our happiness, keep exploitation and injustice at bay and protect each person’s humanity.

Legal reform cannot wait until tomorrow. Enjoyment of rights, liberties and freedoms cannot wait until tomorrow as well…. Otherwise, people will be starved of dignity, of being human, of contributing their instructed judgement to national development.

We have “bad” provisions in our Constitution, some against natural justice. There are conflicts between provisions in our Mother Law and “small mother laws”, the Act. We disobey either at our peril, at the risk of arrest and prosecution. Our only option, I know, is to pray to the Supreme Court or have the National Assembly repeal them. And the Supreme Court does not sit like the normal court…. We can defy the “bad” laws or provisions but at a price. An unjust law is no law at all, said St Aquinas. Changing an “unjust law” in our case is through legal reform or praying to the Supreme Court. Other choices exist but there are prices to pay.

If law abiding citizens are not to disobey laws which are regarded as unjust or bad or at odds with human rights or repugnant to natural justice, then the State must change this law to prevent disobedience or anarchy. Law is supposed to liberate, not to enslave; to add to dignity, not degrade; to facilitate prosperity, not inhibit progress; to enable people fly, not serve as encumberance.

Our men and women in power must not forget where we have come from, the system they fought against and laid down their lives to change. All the past struggle revolved around the law, bad, unjust laws. Laws Jammeh used to stifle dissent, to unjustly imprison and kill, to amass wealth, to turn himself into a demi- god, to emasculate the opposition, to concentrate all powers in himself. So our struggle, by and large, was a struggle against the laws. We cannot continue to have those bad, unjust laws define our lives. In the town hall of freedom, these laws cannot enter.

Every day we live with these bad, unjust laws, we lose our dignity by inches; we surrender a part of our dignity; we become “unfree”…. It cribs both the citizens and those in power….. “Is the action or decision in line with the law?” will be the chorus.

The law must be stable but it must not stand still.