By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
As part of activities marking the recently launched ‘Access To Justice and Legal Education Project’, the National Agency for Legal Aid (NALA) and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Secretariat (ADRS) are jointly rendering free legal services to the communities of West Coast Region.
The mobile legal clinics, which have started in Brikama Suma Kunda on Monday, Brikama Jidda on Tuesday and Brikama Nyambai on Wednesday, will be held in many districts in the region in a period of twenty days. So far, the members of the communities, especially the women, have been responding positively by turning out in large numbers to seek legal advice on many issues that are affecting them such as domestic violence, land disputes and other conflicts within the families or the society.
In an interview with the head of the clinic, Mrs. Judith Ngozi Gbuji Aifred, she said the attendance of the public in the clinics is impressive and that they are coming out to seek for legal advice. She said the purpose of the mobile clinic is to be providing free legal services to the people, especially those who find it difficult to access justice.
Mrs. Aifred, who doubles as a Senior Legal Officer of NALA, said the activity is part of the ‘Access to Justice Project’ and that it will be conducted in the West Coast, Lower River and Upper River regions. Each region, she added, will have twenty days of free legal services by officers of NALA and ADRS. She said the clinic has the mission of providing justice to the door step of every Gambian. She described the clinic as credible enough to handle all matters of the clients as it has Cadis and officers from the social welfare department as part of the team. She added that the NALA takes care of legal issues while ADRS looks at cases of which parties would want to opt for an out of court settlement.
The legal officer enjoined the members of the concern communities to take advantage of this opportunity provided by the clinics to have a free legal service.
She finally assured confidentially with regards to the complaints and reports given by the attendees.
As for Madam Isatou Bittaye, the Senior Program Officer of the National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), the mobile clinic will avail people the chance to receive free advice on matters dealing with law. She noted that the turnout is overwhelming and expressed hope that the public will judiciously utilize the free mobile legal clinic.
The Access to Justice Civic Awareness Campaign is part of the EU Technical Assistance on Access to Justice and Legal Education project for The Gambia. The specific objectives of the project are to promote public awareness on civic rights and duties, promote awareness on the obligations of law enforcement agencies, disseminate knowledge and enhance confidence in the tripartite justice system.