Many ordinary Gambians will tell you that when they or any of their family members, relatives or friends need legal assistance in whichever form, the one place they know they can seek help from is NALA. Never mind that most do not even know where NALA is located, or what it is exactly about, until they need its services.
The National Agency for Legal Aid (NALA)is a statutory body which was established in 2010 pursuant to the Legal Aid Act of 2008 to provide legal aid and assistance to any person who desires legal representation in any criminal or civil matter and who earns not more than such minimum wage as the Government may specify. However, due to limited resources in terms of personnel, legal representation is currently limited to only offences of a capital nature i.e offences punishable with death or life imprisonment.
The way to get free legal aid
1. Legal Representation:
Legal representation not only guarantees the fundamental right of access to justice but also the right to fair hearing. NALA provides legal representation in all offences of a capital nature such as treason, murder, rape, robbery with violence etc and in all cases involving children. This legal representation is available to an accused person upon an order from the court in which the accused is facing trial.
2. Legal Advice:
NALA provides free legal advice in all civil and criminal cases in the form of drafting bail applications, divorce petitions, summons, affidavits etc. Legal advice can be provided at the court premises, at detention centres such as the prisons and police stations, during mobile legal aid clinics and at the NALA offices in Banjul, Brikama, Basse and Farafenni.
3. Sensitization Programmes:
To create awareness on legal aid services, NALA conducts sensitization programs through radio talk shows which are widely tuned into by a majority of Gambians and training programmes to stakeholders and beneficiaries on access to justice in the Gambia.