Legal Aid and Access to Justice in The ‘New Gambia’: A Case for Strengthening the Implementation of the Legal Aid Act

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Abstract

With the ‘New Gambia’ comes an opportunity for change and reform to strengthen democracy and human rights in the country. This paper seeks to contribute to discussions around how best to improve the situation for the population, arguing for improving access to justice and the right to legal aid, as a priority of the new government, to create more effective protection of legal rights in criminal and civil matters. Aware of other competing causes, a case will be made for investment in this area based on the economic benefits, the better protection of rights and freedoms, and improving the Gambian legal system and strengthening the rule of law in the country.

The paper will then consider the existing legal framework, considering the need for reform in this area. It will argue that the rights of individuals to legal aid found in the Legal Aid Act are wide in scope and have the potential to meet with international standards. However, upon examining the implementation of the Act, several shortcomings can be found. The Act, as it stands, is incomplete in its enactment, and the National Agency for Legal Aid (responsible for providing legal aid under the Act) is without sufficient resource to properly comply with its mandate. The paper will then consider how the implementation of the Legal Aid Act could be strengthened, considering how the new government could improve the capacity of the National Agency for Legal Aid, but additionally the role which the broader legal community could play in supporting its mandate. By reconsidering how the responsibility for legal aid provision is dispersed among different actors in the sector, this paper hopes to show that a legal system which works better for all Gambians can be achieved without substantive reform.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-67
JournalThe Gambia Law Review
Volume1
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

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