Roundtable Discussion on Legal Aid in The Gambia [26th October 2006]
The meeting was organised to strategise on how to create a viable legal aid scheme for The Gambia and come up with an action plan for the same. It was first conceived during the May 2005 workshop on access to justice as a fundamental human right. The key concerns were that legal representation was expensive and that pro bono legal representation needed to be encouraged.
It included presentations on:
- law on legal aid in The Gambia;
- international principles on legal aid;
- legal aid was a means of maintaining the rule of law by giving access to justice for poor people.
It resolved that there was a need to expand the law on legal aid beyond capital offences. A roster system for practitioners also needed to be developed, as well as a set of criteria for identifying deserving cases (primarily through the means test). All this required expanding the scope of legislation. It was also proposed that the reservation that The Gambia entered on the ICCPR be withdrawn. Rules relating to legal aid under the Children’s Act should be developed.
The meeting was attended by officials of the Department of State for Justice, the Judiciary, civil society actors and members of the Gambia Bar Association.