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Hawa Sisay-Sabally is a prominent Gambian lawyer known for her dedication to justice, human rights, and democracy. Born and raised in The Gambia, she hails from a family with a notable political background, as her father, Sheriff Saikouba Sisay, served as Minister of Trade and Finance.
Sisay-Sabally's legal career took a significant turn when she was appointed as Minister of Justice and Attorney General under President Yahya Jammeh's administration in April 1996. During her tenure, she played a crucial role in upholding the rule of law and advocating for justice within the Gambian legal system. However, her time in office was relatively short-lived, as she was replaced by Fatou Bensouda on 31 July 1998.
Despite leaving her government position, Sisay-Sabally continued her commitment to justice and human rights advocacy. She became known for her outspokenness against corruption and injustice in The Gambia, often representing opposition politicians and individuals involved in pro-democracy protests.
One of her notable legal battles involved challenging the controversial Indemnity Act of 2001, which aimed to shield individuals from prosecution, particularly security personnel involved in the deaths of students in April 2000. Sisay-Sabally's efforts led to a significant legal victory when the Supreme Court ruled against the retroactive application of the act, allowing her husband's case to proceed and securing damages.
Throughout her career, Sisay-Sabally has been actively involved in various legal associations and advocacy groups, including the Female Lawyers Association of The Gambia, Transparency International, and the Network of Lawyers for Defence of Journalists in West Africa. Her participation in these organizations reflects her commitment to promoting gender equality, combating corruption, and defending freedom of expression and press freedom.
On a personal note, Sisay-Sabally is married to Ousman Sabally, a school teacher. She represented him in a case in 2001 after he was assaulted by state security agents, highlighting her dedication to seeking justice for her loved ones and her unwavering support for human rights principles both professionally and personally.
In recent years, Sisay-Sabally has continued to be actively involved in legal advocacy, representing individuals in high-profile cases, including those related to treason charges and political protests. Her steadfast commitment to justice and human rights has solidified her reputation as a fearless advocate for democracy and the rule of law in The Gambia.