ABA ROLI is in its third year of implementing a five-year USAID-funded project to help lay the foundations for The Gambia’s budding democracy, following two decades of dictatorship. The Promoting Rights and Justice (PRJ) activity in The Gambia seeks to help solidify and accelerate democratic transition in The Gambia by supporting the justice sector and civil society hold elected officials and government institutions accountable to the public.
In 2023, the ABA ROLI Gambia team had numerous successes. In November 2023, the extraordinary session of the National Assembly of the Republic of The Gambia concluded successfully, with all four bills presented before the National Assembly receiving approval and passing. These bills, namely, The Victims Reparation Bill, The Commission of Inquiry Amendment Bill, The Ban from Public Office (TRRC) Bill, and the Former President's Bill, underwent comprehensive review and extensive discussions during the ABA ROLI-organized retreat held the week before the vote. Notably, the National Assembly Members relied on the comprehensive report prepared during the retreat as a valuable reference and guide throughout the session. Once the President grants his approval, these bills will be combined with the laws of The Gambia. It is noteworthy that PRJ's contribution to these much-needed legal reforms is instrumental in shaping the post-TRRC (Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission) landscape in The Gambia.
In September 2023, the ABA ROLI team went to the Office of the Solicitor General (SG) for a formal handover of the Ministry of Justice NewsletterNna NYANTO which means “My Rights” in Mandika. SG Thomasi was very happy about the launch of the newsletter and said that “despite my extensive experience in The Gambia Justice Sector, this is the first time I had witnessed such an initiative.” The newsletter was distributed both internally and externally, including 100 printed copies to be distributed to the public and CSO partners.
In early July 2023, the ABA ROLI Gambia team held a Human Rights Instruments training session in Banjul. Forty-seven people participated in this training, which was the conclusion of months of preparation and direct appeals with potential participants and speakers to assemble an agenda for the direct practical application of human rights in varying contexts with Gambian law. We included collaboration with internal ABA resources, such as the Center for Human Rights and the Committee on Sexual and Domestic Violence. There was an international agenda of speakers, including a Judge Riehl, a District Court Judge from Washington State, Dr. Wabi Wilson, a well-respected human rights advocate from Cameroon.
Earlier in the year, the ABA ROLI Gambia team organized and held a Judge’s retreat on the High Court rules of The Gambia. Numerous prominent judges attended, as well as a visiting American judge from Utah, Judge Campbell, who was able to share his experiences in the judicial system, including the implementation of a case management system and a court automated transcription service (both of which are in the current program workplan).