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VP opens 2009-2010 legal year

Dec 7, 2009, 12:29 PM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The Vice-President, Dr Aja Isatou Njie Saidy, on behalf of President Jammeh yesterday officially opened the 2009-2010 Legal Year, at a colourful ceremony held at the Law Court Complex in Banjul.

In her address, Vice-President Njie-Saidy said that the importance of the Legal Year celebration cannot be over-emphasised, adding that the occasion provides, especially the legal fraternity, the opportunity to take stock of the achievements, shortcomings and challenges confronting the legal sector in the past year, and to reflect on them to be able to plan ahead of the coming year.

She maintained that the government believes and always seeks to see an efficient and effective judicial system, one that would bring speedy justice to all Gambians, as well as foreign nationals staying in the country.

"An efficient, effective and responsive judicial is therefore key not only because it provides space for justice to prevail, but also it goes a long way to instilling confidence in those that seek to bring business and investment into our economy," she said, adding that government has since 1994 invested heavily in the judiciary in the critical areas of human resources empowerment, institutional capacity building and infrastructure.

"Another improvement again motivated by my government ardent desire to strengthen the country legal and judicial system is the introduction and operationalisation of the legal aid scheme throughout the length and breath of this country," she stated.

Dr. Njie Saidy disclosed that "litigants, who have demonstrated inadequate means or are constrained by some other factors to represent themselves effectively in court, will receive legal aid in the form of advice and services."

Speaking earlier, the Attorney-General and the Minister of Justice, Mrs. Marie Saine Firdaus elaborated on the positive developments that have taken place at the Attorney- General Chamber’s and the entire judiciary over the years.

According to her, her ministry is committed to speedy dispensation of justice for all, saying that since the establishment of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Secretariat many cases have been amicably settled.

She said the government had also sponsored the review, revised and printed the law report book, which she said, are useful to lawyers and legal practitioners.

The Justice Minister underscored the importance of the dispensation of justice, adding that it’s the cornerstone of good governance and development. She noted that the establishment of the Special Criminal Court is another achievement in the dispensation of justice where cases are finished within three months period.

She called on all the members of the bar and the bench to work hard to see that justice is done, while also calling on the private bar to assist the Ministry of Justice, stressing that AG Chamber’s will work tirelessly towards addressing those challenges.

For her part, Amie Bensuda, the President of the Gambia Bar Association, reminded the legal fraternity that they have begun observing the tradition since 27 years ago. She stressed that as law officers there is no victory in a conviction.

She concluded by saying that "As Judges, Cadis or Magistrate the heady power that is vested in us is sacred and trust to be applied fairly with independence and impartially, without fear, favour or ill-will for the furtherance of justice."