Sunday, November 27

Court cases to suffer as NALA is hit by mobility and personnel shortage

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By Bruce Asemota

The National Agency for Legal Aid, NALA, established in 2010 by the Government of The Gambia to provide legal aid to indigent persons through legal representation and advice, has been seriously hit with lack of personnel and mobility.

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According to a correspondence NALA addressed to the judicial secretary, seen by The Standard, this situation could mean that NALA will not be able to cover all its active cases in the courts or take on new cases.

A source within the judicial circle told The Standard the situation will impact on the administration of justice for suspects standing trial for capital offences before the superior courts and the children’s courts across the country.

According to sources, the Legal Aid Agency has three battered vehicles that can only ferry lawyers to locations within the Greater Banjul Area and West Coast Region.

It is also learnt that none of the vehicles is able to do a roundtrip to Basse in the Upper River Region and most of the cases in these courts are suffering as Legal Aid cannot send lawyers to appear in courts to defend suspects.

The Standard also understood that criminal cases like the state against Alagie Ceesay, the state against Alexander Gassama came up before the High Court but could not proceed due to the absence of Legal Aid lawyers in court.

Also, a case of robbery with violence in which the suspect needed a legal representation came up before the High Court on Tuesday, 3rd October, 2020 before Justice Ebrima Ba Jaiteh and the suspect could not be given a Legal Aid lawyer.

Sources revealed that the Legal Aid Agency has been neglected both in personnel and mobility, noting sometimes a fewer than five lawyers handling tons of cases with most of them paid pittance compared to their colleagues (lawyers) from the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General’s Chambers.

Our sources warned that if legal Aid Agency is not capacitated in the shortest possible time, suspects whose cases are before the children’s court and the superior courts represented by lawyers from the Legal Aid Agency will suffer terribly.

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