International Development Law Organization

Improving Access to Justice in The Gambia

Monday, March 13, 2023

Today in Banjul, The Gambia, IDLO is pleased to be launching a new project in partnership with the Government of The Gambia and with the generous support of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

Through this project, entitled "Improving Access to Justice in The Gambia," IDLO will partner with local training institutions to develop and provide specialized training curricula for judges, magistrates, and prosecutors. IDLO will also work with civil society to help sensitize individuals in local communities to their rights and explain how the judiciary can protect these rights.

This new initiative will be primarily focused outside the greater Banjul area and include work with the lower magistrate courts operating in the rural divisions of West Coast (Brikama), North Bank (Kerewan, Farfenni), and Upper River (Basse Sante Su).

One of the challenges facing these local magistrates is transcribing their heavy load of court hearings.

In 2022 in Brikama, the two judges serving the magistrate court handled more than 500 civil cases and nearly 600 criminal cases. As Fatoumatta Darboe Jaguraga, Principal Magistrate of the Brikima Magistrate Courts, explains, "Due to the lack of a case recording system, we spend a significant portion of our working hours typing the documents that we handwrote during court proceedings. This forces us to adjourn many cases, which translates into delayed access to justice for the people of The Gambia.”

The new IDLO project will support the creation of an automated transcription and recording system for magistrate courts, which will help save time, clear case backlogs, and help deliver justice where it is needed.

The launch event will be attended by senior Gambian and U.S. Government officials, including the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of The Gambia, Dawda Jallow; Chief Justice of The Gambia, Hassan Jallow; U.S. Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, Uzra Zeya; and U.S. Ambassador to The Gambia, Sharon Cromer.