Legal Aid Bill 2007 Review Workshop (September 2007)

Following the Roundtable discussion in October 2006, the Attorney-General’s Chambers drafted the Legal Aid Bill 2007. Its drafting was welcomed by the legal fraternity in The Gambia as a key step in the process of ensuring that access to justice is realised as a fundamental human right. To ensure that the Bill met the peculiar needs of the society, this workshop was organised to bring together key stakeholders from the bench, bar and civil society to conduct a review of the bill. Participants sought to comprehensively analyse the Bill, considering in particular:

  • the expansion of the scope of legal aid to serve a greater portion of the society;
  • effective ways of funding legal aid in The Gambia;
  • designing an effective legal aid system to ensure economically constrained persons who need the protection of the law to assert their rights under the Constitution of The Gambia.

It was attended by members of the Bench, Bar, government officials, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, civil society as well as expert participants from Ghana.

Topics discussed

  • Status of Legal Aid in The Gambia
  • Development of the Draft Legal Aid Bill, 2007
  • Legal Aid in International Law and Practice
  • Legal Aid in the African Human Rights System and Challenges in Implementing the Lilongwe Declaration
  • Legal Aid in African Countries
  • Legal Aid Schemes: A Practitioner’s Perspective
  • Impartiality/Independence of the Proposed Legal Aid Management Body
  • Scope of Legal Aid
  • Offences
  • Extension beyond capital offences
  • Legal aid from arrest onwards
  • Children’s Act
  • Extension of legal aid beyond High Court to lower courts
  • Legal aid and transnational obligations
  • Sustainability of Legal Aid Scheme
  • Funding
  • Incentives for lawyers: Tax exemptions and Awards
  • Retention of legal aid personnel
  • Proposed Legal Aid Management Body: Functions, Composition, Tenure
  • Access to Legal Aid: Means/Merits Test
  • Public Education
  • Flexibility in Recruiting Legal Aid Personnel
  • Role of Civil Society
  • Register of Lawyers

Workshop Report

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