Access to Justice Project Impacts on Perceptions NALA, Drama Producer says

By Kebba Jeffang

The heads of the National Agency for Legal Aid (NALA), Mobile Legal Clinic, and the drama producer of the Access to Justice Project currently ongoing in the North Bank and Central River Regions, have jointly expressed that the project is changing the perception of many regarding knowledge on their legal and civic rights. The heads of these two organisations, made these remarks during an interview with this reporter in the North Bank Region, last week.

The head of National Agency for Legal Aid Mobile Clinic delegation, Deo Patience, said the project is doing well in making people understand their legal rights and responsibilities and how to redress them. She said NALA is providing legal aid to persons involve in capital offences, or legal problems involving children, be it civil or criminal cases.

“People can come to our offices in Banjul, Farafenni and Basse for advice on such matters. We have community paralegals who refer cases to NALA offices in Banjul. Our role here is to provide mobile legal aid clinic to give advice. Many people here in the provinces cannot afford lawyers and most of the lawyers are in the Greater Banjul area. So we have come here to help them access free legal services,” said Patience.

Sheikh Omar Sawaneh, a script writer, director and film producer, who is also the accountant at the Alternative Dispute Resolution Secretariat (ADRS), is one of the pioneers of the Access to Justice Project Funded by The European Union. Mr. Sawaneh is the producer of the drama played at the project identified sites.

In an interview with this reporter in Baddibu Saba, Mr. Sawaneh said all their drama sketches send messages on how people can learn about their legal and civic rights as citizens of the Gambia. Mr. Sawaneh said they have performed in many areas now and people easily understand the messages through these simple plays.

“All the areas we have visited have issues that bother people such as the right to inheritance, ets. That is why in the drama sketches, we include the authorities who should address them, who the people don’t know about. I develop the scripts, give it to the National Council for Civic Education to go through, after which my actors will come in and do the rest,” he said.

‘‘In the drama, we showcase the various types of conflicts which the institution can settle, and include them, like land problems,’’ he concluded.