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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

US launches new project to improve access to justice in The Gambia

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By Lamin Cham

The International Development Law Organisation (IDLO) in partnership with the Government of The Gambia yesterday launched the Improve Access to Justice in The Gambia project at the Ocean Bay Hotel in Bakau.

The project launch was presided over by visiting US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Usra Zeya whose government funded it through the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

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Under Secretary Zeya told the assembled dignitaries, which included Chief Justice Hassan Jallow, Attorney General Dawda Jallow, members of the bar association and the human rights commission that the project represents a vision shared by both The Gambia and US to deliver equitable, impartial and effective justice for all our people.

 She commended the people of the Gambia’s courageous decision to seek change through the ballot box in 2016 after 22 years of autocratic rule to demand for human rights and justice.

‚ÄúToday, justice and the rule of law are important shared priorities for The Gambia and the US as you demand closure for those who suffered at the hands of the past regime and seek an efficient justice system to support your nation’s vibrant democracy,” she said. Under Secretary Zeya revealed that the Gambian judiciary has restored its independence but now faces the challenge of delivering a comprehensive transitional justice process that already started with the TRRC, while the country also rebuild her domestic justice system despite overwhelming demand and limited resources.

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She said such a situation is difficult even with the political will, hence the USD1M project being launched to improve access to justice in The Gambia.

The project will provide specialised training curricula for judges, magistrates, and prosecutors. Also, under the project, the implementers, IDLO, will work with civil society to help sensitise individuals in local communities their rights and explain how the judiciary can protect these rights. The project will also support the creation of an automated transcription and recording system for magistrate courts to save them time, clear case backlogs and help deliver justice where needed.

Chief Justice Hassan Jallow said the project is consistent with the 5- Year Strategic Plan of the Gambian judiciary, notably the decentralisation of the judicial system which this project would help capacitise among other things. He commended the US government for the numerous interventions and assistance to the Gambia in similar areas.

Attorney General Dawda Jallow extended Gambia’s gratitude to the US government for supporting the country in promoting the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy through the USAID. He said the visit of Under Secretary Zeya, the most senior American official to visit Gambia in recent years, is testimony of the excellent relations between the two countries.

AG Jallow said the new project is another significant and timely assistance to the government and people of The Gambia. Other Speakers included Nyundu Drammeh a commissioner at the national human rights commission, NHRC.

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