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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

NHRC mobile legal aid clinic A way of empowering communities

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The NHRCs’ Mobile Legal Aid Clinics are part of the Commission’s efforts to diversify its reach and ensure that every  citizen and resident within The Gambia is empowered to have access to timely and sustainable justice.

Since its inception in 2021, the objectives of the NHRCs’ Mobile Legal Aid Clinic, is to sensitize communities on the work and functions of the Commission and other relevant Institutions charged with the responsibility to protect human rights, increase understanding of members of the communities’ basic human rights and strengthen access to justice, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of people in rural Gambia.

From 14 to 18th March 2022, the National Human Rights Commissions'(NHRC) Mobile Legal Aid Clinics Team visited the communities of Kunting, Kuntaur Fulla-Kunda, Jelani , Simbara Khai and Bati Ndar in Central River Region (CRR) North to listen to their concerns and render advice.

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The Team received various concerns   from the communities. They ranged from   socio economic rights, namely access to farmlands, limited access to health care facilities, especially for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, education, and access to clean drinking water to legal issues relating to police bail, cattle theft and illegal charges levied for  laissez passez on Gambian nationals when they commute from one village to another without IDs.

Several women also raised concern about access to maternal health facilities, especially during and after delivery, as a major challenge. Women of Bati Ndar said they travel for more than 5 kilometers to Njau Health Centre to deliver their babies, sometimes using donkey carts to get to Njau.

The Team made it clear that access to timely health care services, especially for pregnant mothers, is a basic human right and the lack of it can adversely affect the lives and health of both mother and baby.

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Another concern was lack of access to clean drinking water. This is also a fundamental human right that these communities do not enjoy in full. Without access to water, complainants stated that other basic rights such as rights to health and food are affected. Water is critical not only to the attainment of food security, hygiene, and sanitation, but the overall health of our communities, especially children.

While this visit of the Mobile Legal Aid Clinics’ Team mainly focused on basic social and economic rights that these communities are entitled to, they also brought to light deeper socio-cultural challenges, especially those affecting girls such as child marriage.

The Commission, with the broad mandate to protect human rights, will continue to work in close partnership with the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, NCCE and NALA to ensure that these violations of human rights are addressed.

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