Skip to main content

As part of the activities of LCBP, the IHRDA was also taken to provide technical assistance on issues of human rights. The IHRDA first chose to focus its assistance on access to justice and thereafter was confined to legal assistance.

The IHRDA organized a seminar on access to justice in The Gambia in May 2005.

During the seminar, the participants noted, inter alia, that the high cost of expenses related to legal assistance is a barrier to access to justice and there is need to establish firm specializing in legal aid. Also, more work for free assistance from the lawyers should be done. Participants also noted that access to justice is a fundamental right. As part of monitoring work, a meeting was scheduled for October 2006 by IHRDA. The purpose of the meeting is to bring together the various actors involved in the functioning of the judiciary and civil society, to identify strategies that can help improve legal assistance in The Gambia. During the meeting there were presentations on the law related to judicial assistance and the status of it at international level and in Gambia. The participants had emphasized areas subject to particular concerns in the Gambia and their implications.

One recommendation was that legal aid should be extended beyond the offenses punishable by death and those punishable by life imprisonment and related legislation replaced. It was estimated that this task will require lobbying, public awareness through media education and collaboration between actors in the implementation of justice, parliament and civil society. It was also felt that steps should be taken to strengthen the judiciary such as those aimed at building capacity and ensuring sustainability of legal aid program. The law on legal aid in 2007 (the Legal Aid Bill 2007) was developed by the Attorney General’s office after the meeting.

In September 2007, IHRDA facilitated another workshop to discuss the draft law on judicial assistance in detail and make recommendations to ensure that the law provides open access to justice in The Gambia and is in compliance with best practices related to legal assistance throughout the continent, but more broadly, with international law and with African law relating to human rights. This workshop was attended by staff of the Office of the Prosecutor, lawyers and experts of the Ghana Legal Aid Board. In October 2008, the Law on Legal Assistance, the Legal Aid Bill was passed.