Press Release for the Signing Ceremony Establishing Prisons Legal Aid Desks, Friday, 3 May 2019 in Cape Point, The Gambia.
This morning in Cape Point, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed and endorsed establishing legal aid desks in each of the 3 prisons of The Gambia. Director General Ansumana Manneh on behalf of the Prisons Service, Mr. Salieu Taal, President of the Gambia Bar Association (GBA) and Mr. Kemo Ceesay, Executive Secretary for the National Agency for Legal Aid (NALA) signed the agreement in the presence of the Chairwoman of NALA Ms. Neneh Cham, the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Ms. Nessie Golakai-Gould, the Commissioner of Administration for the Gambia Prisons Service, Mr. Kalilu Jatta, and the UNDP Chief Technical Advisor for Rule of Law, Ms. Shahzada Ahmad.
The MOU details the commitment of the Prisons Service, NALA and GBA to provide pro bono services to detainees held at Mile 2, Jeswang and Janjanbureh Prisons. While UNDP will provide support in terms of establishing offices within the prisons, NALA and GBA have committed to providing free legal services for prisoners on remand, juveniles in detention and those accused of serious crimes.
As DG Manneh noted in his remarks, “Detainees are human beings who deserve to be respected just as any other individual.” Ms. Golakai-Gould, stated that we must “ensure that those that need justice have access to justice that is affordable and accessible.” Mr. Taal speaking on the role of the Gambia Bar Association stated that, “it is important we understand our role in society and our role in ensuring we protect the rights of all citizens.” Mr. Ceesay from NALA, emphasized the importance of legal aid, “with this MOU we will have unfettered access to our clients in prison for proper, effective, and quality consultations that will help them through the court system.” With this agreement, the parties have taken a great stride towards increasing access to justice for those in need.
The ceremony closed with the signing of the MOU and thanks to all the participants.