Gambia is an African country. On three sides of which is Senegal. And the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The population of this country is approx 21,74,000 with 10,689 square kilometers area. The official language is English, and there are too many national languages. There are many ethnic groups, and no one is the majority. 96% are Sunni Muslims.

Everyone has the right to freely observe religion, culture, language, traditions, customs; Without disturbing the equal rights of others. Every citizen has the right to resist any attempt to overthrow the constitutional system. All shall enjoy equal rights irrespective of caste, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion. If someone is arrested, the authorities are obliged to give him the reason in his own language within 3 hours. Every person charged with a crime shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The most interesting aspect of Gambia's constitution is that it contains an article called "Duties of Citizens".

These are positive aspects. Now let's discuss the negative aspects.

In addition to the laws made by the Parliament, the Constitution provides for the validity of the "Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council" made law, customary law, Shariah law in some cases. It stands in the way of overall citizen empowerment.


 Constitution of Gambia


Admirable Articles of Gambia's Constitution

4. Supremacy of the Constitution

This Constitution is the supreme law of The Gambia and any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.


6. Defence of the Constitution

1. Any person who-

a. by himself or herself or in concert with others, by any violent or other unlawful means, suspends or overthrows or abrogates this Constitution or any part of it, or attempts to do any such act; or

b. aids and abets in any manner any person referred to in paragraph (a), commits the offence of treason and shall, on conviction, be liable to the penalty prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly for that offence.

2. All citizens of The Gambia have the right and the duty at all times to defend this Constitution and, in particular, to resist, to the extent reasonably justifiable in the circumstances, any person or group of persons seeking or attempting by any violent or unlawful means to suspend, overthrow or abrogate this Constitution or any part of it.

3. A person who resists the suspension, overthrow or abrogation of this Constitution as provided in subsection (2), commits no offence.


17. Fundamental rights and freedoms (Part of it)

2. Every person in The Gambia, whatever his or her race, colour, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, shall be entitled to the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual contained in this Chapter, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest.

19. Protection of right to personal liberty

1. Every person shall have the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his or her liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law.

2. Any person who is arrested or detained shall be informed as soon as is reasonably practicable and in any case within three hours, in a language that he or she understands, of the reasons for his or her arrest or detention and of his or her right to consult a legal practitioner.

3. Any person who is arrested or detained-

a. for the purpose of bringing him or her before a court in execution of the order of a court; or

b. upon reasonable suspicion of his or her having committed, or being about to commit, a criminal offence under the law of The Gambia, and who is not released,

shall be brought without undue delay before a court and, in any event, within seventy-two hours.

4. Where any person is brought before a court in execution of the order of a court in any proceedings or upon suspicion of his or her having committed or being about to commit an offence, he or she shall not thereafter be further held in custody in connection with those proceedings or that offence save upon the order of a court.

5. If any person arrested or detained as mentioned in subsection (3) (b) is not tried within a reasonable time, then without prejudice to any further proceedings which may be brought against him or her, he or she shall be released either unconditionally or upon reasonable conditions, including, in particular, such conditions as are reasonably necessary to ensure that he or she appears at a later date for trial or proceedings preliminary to trial.

6. Any person who is unlawfully arrested or detained by any other person shall be entitled to compensation from that other person or from any other person or authority on whose behalf that other person was acting.


20. Protection from slavery and forced labour

1. No person shall be held in slavery or servitude.

2. No person shall be required to perform forced labour.

3. For the purposes of this section, the expression "forced labour" does not include-

a. any labour required in consequence of a sentence or order of a court;

b. labour required of any person while he or she is lawfully detained that, though not required in consequence of the sentence or order of the court, is reasonably necessary in the interests of hygiene for the maintenance of the place in which he or she is detained;

c. any labour required of a member of a defence force in pursuance of his or her duties as such or, in the case of a person who has conscientious objections to service as a member of any naval, military or air force, any labour which that person is required by law to perform in place of such service;

d. any labour required during a period of public emergency or in the event of any other emergency or calamity which threatens the life or well-being of the community, to the extent that the requiring of such labour is reasonably justifiable in the circumstances of any situation arising or existing during that period or as a result of that other emergency or calamity, for the purposes of dealing with that situation; or

e. any labour reasonably required as part of reasonable and normal communal or other civic obligations.


23. Privacy

1. No person shall be subject to interference with the privacy of his or her home, correspondence or communications save as is in accordance with law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety of the economic well-being of the country, for the protection of health or morals, for the prevention of disorder or crime or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

2. Searches of the person or the home of individuals shall only be justified

a. where these are authorised by a competent judicial authority;

b. in cases where delay in obtaining such judicial authority carries with it the danger of prejudicing the objects of the search or the public interest and such procedures as are prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly to preclude abuse are properly satisfied.


24. Provision to secure protection of the law and fair trial

3. Every person who is charged with a criminal offence-

a. shall be presumed innocent until he or she is proved, or has pleaded, guilty;

b. shall be informed at the time he or she is charged, in a language which he or she understands and in detail, of the nature of the offence charged;

c. shall be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his or her defence;

e. shall be afforded facilities to examine in person or by his or her legal representative the witnesses called by the prosecution before the court and to obtain the attendance and carry out the examination of witnesses to testify on his or her behalf before the court on the same conditions as those applying to witnesses called by the prosecution; and

f. shall be permitted to have without payment the assistance of an interpreter if he or she cannot understand the language used at the trial of the charge; and, except with his or her own consent, the trial shall not take place in his or her absence unless he or she so conducts himself or herself as to render the continuance of the proceedings in his or her presence impractical and the court has ordered him or her to be removed and the trial to proceed in his or her absence.


31. Rights of the disabled (Part of it)

1. The right of the disabled and handicapped to respect and human dignity shall be recognised by the State and society.

2. Disabled persons shall be entitled to protection against exploitation and to protection against discrimination, in particular as regards access to health services, education and employment.


32. Culture

Every person shall be entitled to enjoy, practice, profess, maintain and promote any culture, language, tradition or religion subject to the terms of this Constitution and to the condition that the rights protected by this section do not impinge on the rights and freedoms of others or the national interest, especially unity.


33. Protection from discrimination (Part of it)

1. All persons shall be equal before the law.

4. In this section, the expression "discrimination" means affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to their respective descriptions by race, colour, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status whereby persons of one such description are subjected to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of another such description are not made subject, or are accorded privileges or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.


60. Political parties

1. No association, other than a political party registered under or pursuant to an Act of the National assembly, shall sponsor candidates public elections.

2. No association shall be registered or remain registered as a political party if-

a. it is formed or organised on an ethnic, sectional, religious or regional basis;

b. its internal organisation does not conform with democratic principles; or

c. its purpose if to subvert this constitution or the rule of law.


67. Misconduct by the President (Part of it)

1. The President may be removed from office in accordance with this section on any of the following grounds-

a. abuse of office, wilful violation of the oath of allegiance or the President's oath of office, or wilful violation of any provision of this Constitution, or

b. misconduct in that-

i. he or she has conducted himself in a manner which brings or is likely to bring the office of President into contempt or disrepute; or

ii. he or she has dishonestly done any act which is prejudicial or inimical to the economy of The Gambia or dishonestly omitted to act with similar consequences.


68. Salary and allowances (Part of it)

4. The President shall not-

a. while he or she continues in office as President, hold any other office of profit or emolument whether public or private, occupy any other position carrying the right to remuneration for the rendering of services;

b. undertake any activity inconsistent with his or her official position or expose himself or herself to any situation which carries with it the risk of a conflict developing between his or her official concerns and his or her private interests;

c. use his or her position as such or use information entrusted to or received by him or her in an official position directly or indirectly to enrich himself or herself or any other person.

5. Where the President was engaged in any trade, business or other undertaking before assuming the office of President, he or she shall, if he or she wishes to continue such trade, business or other undertaking, do so under a trusteeship


76. The executive power

1. The executive power of The Gambia is vested in the President and, subject to this Constitution, shall be exercised by him or her either directly or through the Vice-President, Ministers or officers responsible to him or her.

2. In addition to the powers conferred on him or her by this Constitution, the President shall have such powers and responsibilities as may be conferred on him or her by or under an Act of the National Assembly.

3. The President shall be responsible for making due provision for the execution of Acts of the National Assembly.


82. Prerogative of Mercy

1. The President may, after consulting the Committee established by subsection (2) -

a. grant to any person convicted of any offence a pardon either free or subject to lawful conditions;

b. grant to any person a respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, of the execution of any punishment imposed on that person for any offence;

c. substitute a less severe form of punishment for any punishment imposed on any person for any offence;

d. remit the whole or any part of any punishment imposed on any person for such an offence or any penalty otherwise due to the Republic on account of any offence.

2. There shall be a Committee on the exercise of the prerogative of mercy consisting of the Attorney General and three other persons appointed by the President subject to confirmation by the National Assembly.


216. Social Objectives (Part of it)

2. The State shall pursue policies to protect the rights and freedoms of the disabled, the aged, children and other vulnerable members of society and to ensure that such persons are provided just and equitable social opportunities.

4. The State shall endeavour to facilitate equal access to clean and safe water, adequate health and medical services, habitable shelter, sufficient food and security to all persons.


220. Duties of a Citizen (Part of it)

1. The exercise and enjoyment of rights and freedoms are inseparable from the performance of duties and obligations, and accordingly, every citizen shall:

a. promote the prestige and good reputation of The Gambia and respect the symbols of The Gambia;

b. uphold and defend the Constitution;

c. foster national unity and live harmoniously with others;

d. respect the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of others and refrain from acting in a manner detrimental to the welfare of other persons;

e. serve The Gambia by working conscientiously in his or her chosen occupation;

f. protect and preserve public property and expose and combat the misuse and waste of public funds and property;

g. contribute to the well being of the community in which the citizen lives;

h. be loyal to The Gambia and contribute to its defence when necessary;

i. cooperate with the appropriate agencies in the maintenance of law and order; and

j. protect and conserve the environment of The Gambia.




Facts of Gambia's Constitution

Preamble (Part of it)

In the name of God, the Almighty,


2. Public Seal (Part of it)

1. The Public Seal shall be the seal in existence immediately before this Constitution comes into force or such other seal as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.


3. National flag and anthem

1. The National Flag shall be a flag of the design set out in Schedule 1.

2. The National Anthem shall be the anthem in use immediately before this Constitution comes into force.


7. The laws of The Gambia

In addition to this Constitution, the laws of The Gambia consist of-

a. Acts of the National Assembly made under this Constitution and subsidiary legislation made under such Acts;

b. any orders, rules, regulations or other subsidiary legislation made by a person or authority under a power conferred by this Constitution or any other law;

c. the existing laws including all decrees passed by the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council;

d. the common law and principles of equity;

e. customary law so far as concerns members of the communities to which it applies;

f. the Sharia as regards matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance among members of the communities to which it applies.


116. Immunity from witness summons

Neither any member of the National Assembly nor the Clerk of the National Assembly shall be compelled while attending the National Assembly to appear as a witness in any court or place outside the National Assembly.


PART III. The Cadi Court

137. The Cadi Court

1. A Cadi Court shall be established in such places in The Gambia as the Chief Justice shall determine.

2. The Cadi Court shall be composed-

a. for hearings at first instance, by a panel consisting of the Cadi and two other scholars of the Sharia qualified to be a Cadi or Ulama; and

b. [Act No. 6 of 2001.]

3. The decision of the majority of a panel of a Cadi Court shall constitute the decision of the Court.

4. The Cadi Court shall only have jurisdiction to apply the Sharia in matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance where the parties or other persons interested are Muslims.

5. Any party to a proceeding in the Cadi Court who is dissatisfied with a decision of the Court may appeal to the Cadi Appeals Panel.

6. A person shall be required to be of high moral standing and professionally qualified in the Sharia in order to be appointed a Cadi or Ulama.

7. A party to proceedings in the Cadi court shall be entitled to be represented, at his or her own expense, by a person qualified in the Sharia.


137A. Cadi Appeals Panel

1. There shall be a Cadi Appeals Panel which shall Panel 6 of 2001 consist of-

a. a Chairperson; and

b. not less than four other members.

2. The Panel shall be constituted by three members of the Panel.

3. The Chairperson of the Panel shall preside at a sitting of the Panel and in his or her absence, the most senior member shall preside.

4. The Chairperson and other members of the Panel shall be appointed by a Cadi Appeals Selection Committee which shall consist of-

a. the Chief Justice;

b. the Attorney General; and

c. a member of the Supreme Islamic Council nominated by that Council.

5. A person shall not be qualified for appointment to the Panel-

a. as a Chairperson, unless the person-

i. is a legal practitioner and has been so qualified for a period of not less than five years, and

ii. is professionally qualified in the Sharia;

b. as a member, unless the person is professionally qualified in the Sharia.

6. The Panel shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals from judgment of the Cadi Court and from the District Tribunals where Sharia law is involved.

7. The Cadi Appeals Selection Committee shall prescribe the rules of practice and procedure of the Panel.