Gambia, The
 National Profiles > Regions > Western Africa > Gambia, The
Search National Profiles:

  Preferred Religion (2015)1: Sunni

  Majority Religion (2015)2: Sunni Muslim (87.8%)

Features Of Constitution

Is there a constitution?3 yes
Does the constitution state an official religion?3 no [Section 1(1)]
Does the constitution provide for freedom of religion?3 yes [Section 25(1)(b,c)]
Does the constitution protect religious equality/non-discrimination?3 yes [Sections 17(2), 33]


Constitution Year3 1996
Last Amended3 2004
Source3 Constitute Project
Translation3 Original was written in English.
Current as of3 August 2, 2018

Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion)3


In the name of God, the Almighty.

... The fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in this Constitution will ensure for all time respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction as to ... religion. ...

... we ... pray that the Great God of Nations will keep us all ever true to The Gambia.

Section 1. The Republic.

(1) The Gambia is a ... Secular Republic.

Section 7. The laws of The Gambia.

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


(f) The sharia as regards matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance among members of the communities to which it applies.

Section 17. Fundamental rights and freedoms.


(2) Every person in the Gambia, whatever his or her ... religion ... 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.

Section 25. Freedom of speech, conscience, assembly, association and movement.

(1) Every person shall have the right to---


(b) freedom of thought, conscience and belief ...

(c) freedom to practise any religion and to manifest such practice;



Section 32. Culture.

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

Section 33. Protection from discrimination.

(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 ... religion ... 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 privilege or advantages which are not accorded to persons of another such description.


Section 60. Political parties.


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

(a) it is formed or organised on [a] ... religious ... basis;


Section 100. The legislative power.


(2) The National Assembly shall not pass a Bill---


(b) to establish any religion as a state religion; or ...


Section 120. The courts and the judicial power.

(1) The Courts of The Gambia are:


(b) ... the Cadi Court ...


Section 132. Jurisdiction of high court.


(2) The High Court shall have such jurisdiction in appeals from courts subordinate to it (other than the cadi court) as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.

Section 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;

[paragraph (b) deleted in a 2001 Amendment]


(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.


(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.

Section 137A. Cadi appeals panel.


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


(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-


(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.


Section 212. National integration and unity.


(3) All the people of The Gambia shall be entitled to their ... religious ... values which do not disturb the unity or cohesion of the State.


1.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

2.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports annual estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivisions within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

3.  Text from country constitutions was copied from primary documents obtained online using a variety of sources, including the Constitute Project, World Constitutions Illustrated, and government sources. When the text was in a language other than English, it was translated to English by ARDA staff or with web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to differentiate religious content from non-religious content. Text is current to the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at if you are aware of any incorrect information provided on this page.

Bookmark and Share