The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Balla Garba Jahumpa, Wednesday inaugurated the newly-refurbished Ministry of Justice building in Banjul as part of the 20th anniversary celebration of the July 22nd Revolution.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Minister Bala Garba Jahumpa said the rule of law is universally considered as fundamental in any society.
He added that law and order are critical in the socio economic development of any country, and that a well-functioning legal system can be an asset to economic growth and development.
In The Gambia, he added, it was clear that the unprecedented development that began since the advent of the July 22nd Revolution has ensure that the legal system is effective.
Access to justice is fundamental to democracy, he continued, further stating that in the past the whole common law system in The Gambia was centered around Banjul and the Greater Banjul Area and, therefore, people come all the away from the provinces to have access to justice.
He added that a citizen’s access to justice depended on his or her ability to come to Banjul, but with the coming of the revolution, it has provided subordinate and high courts for justice to be accessible to all.
High courts were provided in Brikama and Basse, he pointed out.
Minister Jahumpa added that in 2005, the government introduced a law for the Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism for the use of alternative methods to resolve disputes.
One could not talk about access to justice if the means to pay for the expensive service of lawyers is lacking, he went on, adding that in 2008, the government enacted the Legal Aid Act to provide free legal services to Gambians.
He said with the establishment of the UTG Law Faculty, this has reduced the country’s need for external legal aid.
The inauguration of the building was part of government’s efforts to provide the best possible working conditions for the legal fraternity, Jahumpa continued, and urged the occupants of the building to keep maintaining it so as to enable it’s sustainability.
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Basiru V.P. Mahoney, said there are three arms of government - the executive, legislature and the judiciary.
The ministry of justice works with the National Assembly which ratifies all laws, institutes civil matters for the state and plays an important role in enforcing laws by bringing offenders to the courts.
The ministry registers businesses, among others, and the National Agency for Legal Aid, Law Reform Commission are among the institutions that are directly connected to the Justice ministry.
Justice minister Mahoney added that the refurbished building houses the office of the Attorney General, Solicitor General and related offices.When the design was presented to the President, he wasted no time in responding favourably for the building’s refurnishment, and he had no doubt that the staff would be proud to work in such a convenient environment.
are proud to be part of the revolution, and services such as free legal aid to
the public, are part of the development brought by the revolution, Justice
Mahoney went on.