Wednesday, March 25, 2015

EU-funded €4.5 Million Justice Reform Project Launch Preparations for Civic Awareness

Musa Baldeh, a student of St. Therese’s in Fula Bantang speaks to TNBES at an NCCE training on the formation of civic education clubs in schools, May 2014 (Photo Credit: MSJoof/TNBES)
A €4.5 million European Union-funded justice reform project in The Gambia has begun preparations for its civic awareness campaign, the National Council for Civic Education, NCCE, announced on Tuesday.

Officials of the EU and their local partners including Gambia government officials in the 'access to justice and legal education' project hold an inaugural Technical Committee Meeting in Banjul to launch preparations for its “civic awareness campaign” which starts later this year.

“This action in support of access to justice and legal education is contributing €4.5 million (D242 million) to justice reform in The Gambia,” according to a March 24, 2015 NCCE statement.

TNBES understands the project is part of a wider EU-funded “Governance Programme” of €10 million (D540 million) which includes: access to justice and legal education; journalism and the media; and public financial management.

It is being implemented over 25 months from November 2014 to January 2017.

The NCCE stated that the project will advance the its objectives to improve access to legal services and remedial justice services such as alternative dispute resolution with a focus on vulnerable groups, legal education and research, and management of court cases.

“Its main activities in support of access to justice include the implementation of a civic awareness campaign on access to justice mechanisms, sensitisation of customary leaders to standards for good justice practices, and support to mediation and arbitration as alternatives to dispute resolution,” said Yusupha Bojang, a programme officer of NCCE.
He said the legal education aspect will focus on support to improving the curriculum of the University of The Gambia Law Faculty, an exchange programme for lecturers, and recommendations for improving the Bar preparation programme of the Gambia Law School for new lawyers entering law practice.

It will also support the updating of research materials for modern law, Sharia’ law, and customary law jurisprudence, Mr. Bojang said.

The NCCE has stated that the project is also laying the groundwork for its support to continuous training of judges and court staff of the Modern and Cadi courts, and the District Tribunals. This will take effect simultaneously with its civic awareness campaign activities.

Bojang has disclosed that [a] judicial training expert will soon initiate an assessment of training needs and review progress in judicial training since the conclusion of similar donor projects in the past.

The expert will be working closely with members of the Judiciary, Cadi Appeals Panel, and Ministry of Lands and Regional Government.

Since November 2014, the project has hired five experts and completed preparatory work on updating the current status of laws relevant to The Gambia’s Tripartite Justice System of Modern Common Law, Cadi Law and Customary Law, according to officials in Banjul.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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