By Sailu Bah
The handing over ceremony of the Justice building was held on Wednesday 15th October 2014, at the Ministry of Justice, Marena Parade in Banjul, presided over by Balla Garba Jahumpa, Minster of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the President of the Republic.
This building was fully funded by the Government of the Gambia and was refurbished by Competence Company Limited. This building housed the office of the Attorney General, Office of the Solicitor General, Administration Department of the Ministry of Justice, The drafting Department and Civil Litigation Department and Criminal Prosecution department.
As Chairman and master of ceremonies Dr. Henry D.R. Carrol in his welcoming remarks, welcomed all dignitaries and people present at the occasion and described the occassion as a momentous and historical ceremony.
Dr. Carrol said the renovation was accident free and no one minute silence will be observed for any loss of lives and thanked God for that.
Minister of Justice Basiru V.P Mahoney also expressed that he is honoured and previledged to welcome all dignitaries and people present in the occasion.
Minister Mahoney referred to the refurbishment of this building as a symbol of government’s commitment towards infrastructural development and also renewed commitment to providing legal services accessible to all. He added that this is inline with the Mission Statement of the MOJ: ‘To provide Legal services to government and the public in an efficient and effective manner’.
Minister Mahoney added that the Legislature, Judiciary, and the Executive as the arms of government are separated and independent but they are interrelated.
“Cooperation between these three arms is a necessity for the efficient functioning of government. The executive works with the legislature by framing and proposing policies for regulating the country in the form of bills for enactment. The ministry of justice works closely with the National Assembly as it is the Ministry of justice that drafts and reviews all bills for enactment into Law. Where disputes arise, the judiciary is adjucatory body,” explained Minister Mahoney.
Minster Mahoney informs that within the ministry, there are six core divisions; Civil Litigation and International Law, Criminal Prosecution, Drafting, Registrar General, Companies and Curator. He added that there are also other agencies directly under the Ministry including the National agency for Legal Aid, the Alternative dispute resolution secretariat, the National agency against Trafficking in persons, the Law reform commission and the National Council for Law reporting.
“In the core departments of the Ministry of Justice, there are 120 staff employed, of which 43 are legal practitioners. We are blessed with new recruits from the University of the Gambia and professionally trained at the Gambia Law School which has increased the indigenization of our staff, complemented by Public Lawyers from the Federal republic of Nigeria attached to us as part of the Technical assistance agreement between both countries,” informed Justice Minister.
In his inuaguaral statement Balla Garba Jahumpa, the Minister of Foreign affairs deputizing the president of the republic of the Gambia, said that the rule of Law and the maintenance of Law and order are universally considered as some of the fundamental prerequisites for meaningful broad based development in any society. “in other words, it is widely believed that well functioning Law and justice institutions are critical to social economic development. Many will agree that this assumption is grounded in both theory and empirical evidence, and has gained widespread acceptance among social scientists, legal scholars and development professionals,” he advanced.
Mr. Jahumpa said that the government of the Gambia have provided the driving force for the major initiatives that have been implemented to ensure that the legal and judicial institutions, systems and services are effective and responsive within the broad framework of the national development agenda.
“Some of these initiatives include the decentralization of legal services, the introduction of mediation prosesses to settle disputes outside the formal judicial system, the provision of legal aid to those who deserve it, capacity building and professional development for lawyers, to name a few,” he said.
He further announced that all government structures and buildings will be inspected by the office of the president which will be the inspector general. He urged a proper maintenance and care of the building.