Monday, July 22, 2024

High Court hears 20M civil suit by ‘hijabi’ students against 5 schools 

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By: Fatou Kebbeh

A 20 million civil lawsuit against five (5) schools filed by several ‘hijabi’ students has been heard by Justice Ebrima Jaiteh of the Banjul High Court on Thursday for the first time.

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Gambia Senior Secondary School, St. Therese’s Upper Basic School, Reverend JC Faye, Grace Bilingual School and St. Peter’s Senior Secondary School have been sued, having allegedly caused emotional distress and embarrassment to students after allegedly forcing them to remove their veils.

Hundreds of people gathered at the premises of the High Court to show support for what is apparently an unprecedented case in the country.

Most were dressed in veils and sitting at the Arch 22nd.

The students, three (3) of whom are minors, sued the five schools, the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and the Attorney General as they seek enforcement of their constitutional right in the 1997 Constitution to be allowed to use veil.

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Under the Gambian Constitution, the High Court has the exclusive original jurisdiction to hear and decide on cases of fundamental rights and freedoms.

The applicants want the court to make an order directing the schools to allow them and other Muslim female students to wear veils in the expression of their Islamic beliefs.

They also want the court to make an order directing the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education to take up all necessary measures including passing of laws, rules and regulations to ensure that schools allow female students to wear veils.

The students are Kadijatou Saidy (1st applicant), Maimuna H. Jawo (2nd applicant), Fatou Binta Darboe (3rd applicant), Aasiya A. Darbo (4th applicant) while the 5th and 7th applicants are all minors. The representatives of all the parties for the applicants and the defendants were present in court.

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The matter was adjourned to the 20th of June 2023 at 10 a.m. for a hearing.

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