By Edrissa Jallow
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) commemorated International Human Rights Day by organizing its annual Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Moot Court competition for both national and international faculty of law university students. The event took place on Sunday 10th December 2023 as part of commemorating International Human Rights Day at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center, in Bijilo.
A Moot Court is a mock court competition where participants argue over a case that has already been decided by an actual court and the theme of this year’s competition is “Justiciability of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”. The preliminary rounds of the competition took place on Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th of November 2023. The Semi-Finals were held on Friday 8th of December and the finalists argued today 10th of December 2023.
The two finalists for the competition were both Nigerian Universities; the University of Lagos and the University of Obafemi Awolowo with Awolowo University being crowned the champion after defeating 7 different universities. The seven universities that participated in this year’s 4th Edition are the University of The Gambia, International Open University (IOU Gambia), Makerere University (Uganda), Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law (Liberia), University of Lagos (Nigeria), Fourah Bay College (Sierra Leone), and University of Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria).
The winners of the 4th Moot Court Competition were Akinwumi Akinyemi and Damilola Ekundayo of the University of Obafemi Awolowo who received a cash prize of D150,000 and a winner’s plaque followed by Jadesola Shodimu and Ayotunde Abiodum of the University of Lagos who were received a cash prize of D100,000 plus a plaque.
Certificates of participation were also awarded to the IOU University represented by Nuha Bojang and Sheikh Tijan Sowe and the University of The Gambia represented by Ahmed Fofanah and Algasim Bah.
Speaking at the event, NHRC Chairperson, Emmanuel D Joof, informed the audience that moot competitions are part of the program and curriculum of the faculty of law of most universities.
“The moot court competition is one of the many ways that the NHRC has been implementing this mandate by collaborating with the Faculty of Law of the UTG. By designing a moot court competition, we expose law students to human rights law, practice, and litigation in the Gambia and beyond,” said Chairperson Joof.
He adds that the Moot Court provides a “hypothetical case and a court scenario where law students argue like Advocates presenting different sides of a case based on the facts, evidence, and law in the presence of [a] judge who will listen to the arguments presented and will mark the students and the respective team based on their advocacy skills, how they present the facts, the law, the evidence and the responses to questions posed, etc”.
The 4th edition case argument was a story of a West African coastal state, the Republic of Kemite, a former British colony. The students argued about the condition of the country including the right to education, environmental degradation and others to name a few.
Chairperson Joof reminded the audience that the Moot Court is named after Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, the first President of The Gambia for his dedication towards Human rights.