“RAPE CHARGE IN ABSENTIA” FOR MELVILLE ROBERTS! 

Editor Mbai,

This was published by The Standard newspaper a few days ago and it is news to me, and I am sure to many of your readers. Mr. Roberts did not mention this to me whilst I was questioning him for your “Breaking News” story. This means that Mr. Roberts, who is in UK, is a wanted man in The Gambia, and it all buttresses my previous view of his Ecowas case being hopeless.

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I have never heard of a man charged with a crime making what amounts to a “counter claim”! In the light of the fact that Mr. Roberts has been charged with rape in The Gambia, him filing a case in the Ecowas court, based on the same information that has led to him being charged, is what lawyers would call an “abuse of process”.

Mr. Roberts has not been “denied access to court”! All he needs to do is go back to The Gambia and fully defend himself against the charges!

Mr. Roberts cannot complain about “being suspended for over two years” if he has been charged! I am a teacher and if I am accused of a serious offence I would be suspended at once during the investigation, and if charged, until I am found not guilty.

We should say nothing about the charges against Mr. Roberts other than what we wrote earlier about his case at the Ecowas court which a paste below, PLUS the Standard Newspaper story.

Dida Jallow-Halake,

Notting Hill, UK.

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OPINION: ECOWAS COURT WILL REJECT MELVILLE ROBERTS’ CASE! 

November 9, 2021

OPINION: ECOWAS COURT WILL REJECT MELVILLE ROBERTS’ CASE!

Editor Mbai,

Firstly, I think it is great that Gambians are using the courts more nowadays if they feel that their rights have been infringed. That is the ‘Rule of Law’ and for that reason alone I applaud Mr. Roberts for seeking justice from the court. That said, I think Mr. Roberts went to the wrong court!

I say “wrong court” because international courts such as Ecowas Court and the European Court of Human Rights (of which UK is still a member) require a litigant to exhaust domestic remedies first. For example, I cannot take UK to the European Court before I have gone to the British High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. If I go to the European Court before I have gone to all these British courts, the European Court will reject my case. I have not read anywhere that Mr. Roberts has filed a case in Gambian courts and, once the Gambian Attorney General points this out to the Ecowas Court, I think the case filed against Gambia by Mr. Roberts will be rejected.

Secondly, post Yahya Jammeh dictatorship, Gambian courts have been determined to hold to account those in authority who infringe citizens’ rights (from a certain Judge Jaiteh of the Banjul High Court alone I have read two such judgments recently and I am sure that there have been others). This will not be lost on Ecowas either and they will tell Mr. Roberts that Gambian courts are willing and capable of addressing his grievances.

Thirdly, the substance of Mr. Roberts’ case raises some difficulties. Mr. Roberts’ problems did not start with the Gambian state abusing his rights; the problems started with allegations of crime by private citizens. The state (in the form of the police) has a duty to investigate allegations of crime. The fact that allegations were made and investigated cannot be the fault of the state in anyway. In UK those who make allegations of a crime to the police, even maliciously, have virtual immunity – because it is in the public interest for people to report anything to the police (House of Lords in Hill – UK Supreme Court replaced the House of Lords in 2000).

But those who made the allegations against Mr. Roberts first made those allegations on Facebook … and they can be sued for any libellous/defamatory allegations they made on Facebook (it does not matter that they later made the same allegations to the police … Facebook allegations have no immunity). So Mr. Roberts should sue those women in Gambian courts.

Fourthly, the Gambian police may have a good reason for not publishing the investigation report into the allegations against Mr. Roberts. Here in UK government policy is that investigation reports into allegations of rape by women will not be published … the public interest policy being that women must not be deterred from reporting rape and assault by the threat of publicity. So the Gambian police may cite those women’s right to privacy. BUT, and it is a big but, if Mr. Roberts sues the women in the Gambian High Court, the court will almost certainly order the police to release their investigation report to the court and to Mr. Roberts lawyer … to ensure a fair hearing.

Fifth, and finally the case of the missing jewellery: again I see no reason why Mr. Roberts cannot sue The Gambian police in Gambian courts for the return of these jewellery.

In conclusion, I think these hurdles are insurmountable and Mr. Roberts case will be rejected by the Ecowas Court.

Dida Jallow-Halake,

Notting Hill, London.

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MELVILLE ROBERTS SUES GOV’T FOR US$500,000 

NOVEMBER 9, 2021

Standard Newspaper By Omar Bah

A former director of American affairs at the foreign ministry, Melville Roberts, has taken Gambia government to the Ecowas Court for violating his right to access, fair hearing, privacy, and right to work under equitable and satisfactory conditions among others.

Roberts was removed from his position over allegations of sexual assault. He denied any wrong doing and has since been living abroad. He was charged with rape in absentia.

Mr Roberts is represented by Falana & Falana Chambers, a leading law firm in Nigeria.

Melville is requesting the court to ask The Gambia government to pay him US$500,000 for damages caused to him and the infringement of his rights and entitlement.

Roberts’s complaints to the court include The Gambia government’s decision to continuously deprive him of access to court to afford him opportunity for a fair trial on the allegation of rape levelled against him which is a violation of his fundamental right guaranteed by the relevant provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, the Constitution of The Gambia and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

“That the decision of the [Gambia government] to go ahead with the prosecution of the plaintiff despite a police report clearing him of all offences is discriminatory and an interference with the privacy of the plaintiff; that the suspension of the defendant for over two years without trial is a violation of the plaintiff’s right to work and also a violation of his right to presumption of innocencehis lawyers said.”

The lawyers want the Ecowas Court to make an order directing The Gambia government to reinstate the plaintiff at his work and take cognisance of his promotion, salaries and emoluments. They also asked for The Gambia government to publish the report of the investigation carried out by the police and also to publish an apology to the defendant for all the embarrassment caused him, restraining the defendant from further interfering with the rights and entitlement without lawful cause.

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