West African Institute for Legal Aid

THE WEST AFRICAN INSTITUTE FOR LEGAL AID (WAILA)

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Activity Report 

ANNUAL ACTIVITY REPORT OF WEST AFRICAN INSTITUTE FOR LEGAL AID (WAILA)2015- 2016

Table of Contents

MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: MR. THOMAS FUAD TOURAY………………………..I

ABOUT THE WEST AFRICAN INSTITUTE FOR LEGAL AID (WAILA)………………………………………..II

INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………1

PART  I:  ACHIEVEMENTS……………………………………………………………………………….2

  • Waila identified legal needs, pathways and barriers for economically and   socially disadvantaged people in The Gambia………………………………………………………….3
  • Delivery of Pro Bono Legal Services…………………………………………………..4
  • National Pro-Bono Celebration Week……………………………………………………………………………………..5
  • The NGO Porum preceding the Ordinary Sessions of the African Commission……………6
  • Sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights………………………….7
  • Women International Forum for Peace in Casamance, Senegal  ……………………………….8
  • The 8th Worldwide Conference Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE)……………9

PART II:  HUMAN RIGHTS RESEARCH AND MONITORING PROGRAM………………………………….10

  • Analysis of Human Rights violations in The Gambia………………………………………………………………..11
  • Wiala Initiative for the Promotion and protection of Human Rights……………………………………….12

 

 PART III: PROJECTS AND PARTNERSHIP

  • Access to Justice Programme partnership with United Nations Development

Programme (UNDP)……………………………………………………………………………………………………13

  • Memorandum of Understanding between The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) and National agency for Legal Aid (NALA)……………………………………………………14
  • Memorandum of Understanding between The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….15
  • Access to Justice Programme partnership meeting with The European Union Delegation to the Republic of The Gambia, …………………………………………………………………………………..16

      PART IV:  ORGANIZATIONAL SETBACKS…………………………………………………………………………..17

  • Challenges ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………18
  • Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………19

 

MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: MR. THOMAS FUAD TOURAY

I am pleased to present the Annual Activity Report of The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA), 2015- 2016. Over the past two and a half years, Waila`s Access to Justice Initiative has had considerable success with its multi-faceted approach to the delivery of legal services, such as providing Legal Information and Education, Legal Advice and Assistance, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and/or Legal Representation to economically and socially disadvantaged people in West Africa.

This Report details our continued efforts to increase equal access to justice for unrepresented litigants throughout in West Africa nations; we forged and strengthened new and old pathways to justice with a special concentration on non-lawyer legal assistance. Waila`s CourtHelp Initiative was given a complete attention as a vehicle for an effective and efficient promotion of access to justice and Human Rights in West Africa.

Once again, WAILA acknowledges that development is impossible in the absence of true democracy, respect for human rights, peace and good governance. Therefore, we play a central role in strengthening and sustaining Africa’s growth; particularly with respect to advancing progress towards achieving sustainable development.

It is equally important to note that, Waila has contributed to human, social, cultural and economic development of communities and nations of West Africa. This was done through strengthening a dimension of teaching Clinical Legal Education, research, community outreach, and engagement with partners in the region and abroad in promoting access to justice as an important agent of change and development in West Africa.

 I am grateful for the tireless efforts of the Access to Justice Program’s dedicated and talented staff, partners, and friends; the continuous determination of court personnel throughout The Gambia; and the pro bono efforts made by our volunteer attorneys and non-lawyers. Until we are able to keep pace with the ever growing need for adequate and dependable legal services, our Access to Justice Program will endeavor to fulfill its mission to ensure that everyone has equal access to justice

Thomas Fuad Touray

 

 

 

                ABOUT THE WEST AFRICAN INSTITUTE FOR LEGAL AID (WAILA)

The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) was established in 2013 by a group of young lawyers in The Gambia. It   is a unique regional and global Non-Governmental Organization, non-profit that is defending liberty and pursuing justice for economically and socially disadvantaged people in West Africa and other parts of the world.

WAILA aims to contribute to the development of a fair and equitable justice system which addresses the legal needs of the community, and to improve access to justice by the community (in particular, by economically and socially disadvantaged people.

We provide free Legal services to eligible individuals or groups, in both criminal and civil cases, with a long term objective to provide free legal representation to eligible individuals or groups before regional and international judicial institutions.

Our services: Providing Legal Information and Education, Legal Advice and Assistance, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and/or Legal Representation.

OUR MISSION

To ensure access to justice in civil and criminal matters for economically and socially disadvantaged people in The Gambia, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.

 OUR VISION

To be a leader in the provision of accessible, sustainable, ethical, independent and quality legal aid services to economically and socially disadvantaged people in The Gambia, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.

OUR CORE VALUES

WAILA is dedicated to:

  • Providing more opportunities for justice via community empowerment using outreach, education and training of government officials, partner institutions and community members in West Africa
  • High quality work, which includes responding quickly to new circumstances, developing creative solutions for client problems, tenacity and professionalism.
  • Ensuring that the organization is administered with integrity, competence and efficiency, through an engaged and effective Board of Directors and management team.
  • Fostering awareness of the needs of unrepresented litigants and litigants of diverse backgrounds and special needs and insuring high quality service by both judicial and non-judicial personnel via education, training and literature.

 STRATEGIC PRIORITIES

Following Waila`s Annual General Meeting held Saturday, January 24, 2015, the Board of Directors identified three strategic priorities to guide our work:

  1. Increase, forged and strengthened new and old pathways to equal access to justice for unrepresented litigants in countries where we work.
  2. Ending, combating and limiting wrongful detention and imprisonment of innocent people, particularly children and women in countries where we work.
  3. Developing and promoting alternatives to immigration detention
  4. Improving rights, conditions and monitoring of places of immigration detention

 Four Key Areas of Work

The WAILA fulfills its mission by building the capacity of our staff and members in four key areas:

  1. Networking and Capacity Building with national and international legal aid institutions.
  2. Advocacy on equal access to justice and human rights for all. 
  3. Awareness Raising and Campaigns on Legal Information and Education, Legal Advice and Assistance, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and/or Legal Representation.
  4. Research and Reporting

INTRODUCTION

This is the 2016-2016 Activity Report of The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA). The Report describes the activities undertaken by WAILA from January 2015 to December 2016. This Report describes the numerous paths that Waila`s Access to Justice Program has forged to deliver legal services, assistance and information to unrepresented litigants.

The basic operation and the two year’s highlights are summarized in Parts I-IV for each of the Access to Justice Program’s initiatives, programs and services.

Part I of this Report, entitled “achievements,” is divided by the various delivery methods employed by the Access to Justice Program to deliver legal services through its court Help initiative. The programs offer free legal services for finite tasks, such as legal advice, court form preparation assistance or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).  Categorizing this Part of the Report by the type of delivery method employed, rather than the name of the program or area of law, was done to attest to the many effective ways that access to the justice system can be achieved without providing full service representation. When traditional legal representation is unavailable, in certain types of case, there are litigants that can greatly benefit from unbundled legal services.

Part I also summarizes conferences and workshops undertaking by Waila through its Access to Justice Program’s emphasis on utilizing law students, law graduates, newly admitted attorneys and retired attorneys through various partnerships, initiatives

Part II of this Report, entitled “human rights research and monitoring program

  ,” describes how Waila has been, among others, the protection and promotion of human rights in Africa. This is pursued through various projects and undertakings that involve various activities such as training, public awareness campaign and programs.

Part III of this Report, entitled “projects and partnership, “describes the projects and partnership initiatives cognizant of the needs of vulnerable litigants, and Poverty Simulation Program endeavor to ensure equal access to justice for economically and socially disadvantaged people in West Africa.

Part IV of this Report, entitled “organizational challenges,” illustrates the challenges faced by Waila in terms of delivering its Access to Justice Program.

PART  I:  ACHIEVEMENTS

IDENTIFY LEGAL NEEDS, PATHWAYS AND BARRIERS FOR ECONOMICALLY AND   SOCIALLY DISADVANTAGED PEOPLE IN THE GAMBIA

The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) is pleased to be at the forefront of advocacy for having identified the legal needs and barriers that undermine access to justice in The Gambia.  We have conducted series of consultative meetings with the University of The Gambia Law Clinic, The Gambia Bar Association (GBA), The Female Lawyers Association Gambia (FLAG), the National Agency for Legal Aid (NALA), Alternative Dispute Resolution Secretariat (ADRS), Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and The European Union Delegation to The Gambia.

Delegate from Waila noted that The Gambia, like many other developing countries, the law and procedures are complicated both in form and content. Hence, the law has become a domain of very few trained specialists called lawyers, notwithstanding the fact that law affects everyone. This is a situation where many people who are poor and cannot therefore pay for the specialized advice of lawyers tend to find themselves unable to access legal services. Those legal services offered in the market by the often few practicing lawyers are not affordable and reachable where the poor majority are concerned. This is due to the fees charged by lawyers for one to access legal advice. They tend to be prohibitive if not discriminatory and more often than not these lawyers   tend to be urban based.

In the light of this obvious reality, poor people, especially those residing in the rural areas tend to suffer greatly for inability to access legal services to resolve their legal problems. Since, it is not possible to station trained lawyers in all localities where people live, it is necessary to facilitate acquisition of basic legal knowledge within the communities.

DELIVERY OF PRO BONO LEGAL SERVICES

Waila`s Access to Justice Program strives to improve access to justice through the delivery of free legal services to unrepresented litigants. Thus, considering the capacity of Waila, providing legal representation from start to finish in every case is not possible at this time, the Access to Justice Program primarily employs a variety of “unbundled” legal service delivery methods to increase the availability of legal assistance to the public.  Unbundled  legal services is a practice where the legal aid institutions perform only the agreed upon tasks, rather than the whole “bundle” of the work required in traditional full service representation. The litigant then performs the remaining tasks on his or her own. The Access to Justice Program concentrates its limited resources on providing court-based volunteer legal service programs in three general categories of unbundled or limited scope representation: advice only consultations, document preparation assistance and limited representation in court.  Providing  unbundled legal services programs enables the Access to Justice Program to assist many more litigants than would otherwise be possible with traditional full service legal representation.

NATIONAL PRO-BONO CELEBRATION WEEK

Access to Justice has often been described as a fundamental right on its own and one that the enjoyment of other rights such as the right to fair trial is pegged. It is a right upon which the rule of law is upheld and one that promotes development of a country. The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) in its recognition of its international responsibility under the United Nations Charter and other international human rights instruments celebrated the National pro-bono week in order to reach more people in the rural communities, particularly women, children and the extremely poor who are unable to reach Legal Aid Centers due to financial or other constraints

THE   NGO PORUM PRECEDING THE ORDINARY SESSIONS OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION

 

Since its establishment, The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) has continued to participate in NGO Forum held in The Gambia. We have shared expertise contact information and with colleagues during and after the forum, preliminary sessions and group discussions in order to build networks and share relevant information for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa

The Forum on the Participation of NGOs in the Ordinary Sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights is one of the main advocacy tools to promote networking among Human Rights NGOs, for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa.

SESSIONS OF THE AFRICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), during its 57th Ordinary Session held from 4-18 November, 2015, in Banjul, The Gambia, considered and granted Observer Status to The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) in accordance with the Resolution on the criteria for granting Observer Status to NGOs   working in the area of human rights.  The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) has continued to participate in the sessions held in The Gambia. We have shared expertise contact information with colleagues during and after the sessions, preliminary sessions and group discussions in order to build networks and share relevant information for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa

WOMEN INTERNATIONAL FORUM FOR PEACE IN CASAMANCE, SENEGAL

The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) in partnership with The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), participated at the women international Forum for peace in Casamance region of Southern Senegal-Gambia- Guinea Bissau, held from 18-19 September, 2015.

THE 8TH WORLDWIDE  CONFERENCE GLOBAL ALLIANCE FOR JUSTICE EDUCATION (GAJE)

The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) was represented by our Executive Director, Mr. Thomas Fuad Touray, participated and presented an academic paper at the 8th Worldwide Conference Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE) at Anadolu University in Eskisehir, Turkey. Mr. Thomas presented on the topic:  “IDENTIFY LEGAL NEEDS, PATHWAYS AND BARRIERS FORE CONOMICALLY AND   SOCIALLY DISADVANTAGED PEOPLE IN THE GAMBIA“, held on July 22- 28, 2015.

The main goal of the conference was to provide law teachers, law students, legal practitioners, jurists, and social activists from around the world the opportunity to acquire new ideas, models, and skills for the use of education to promote social justice.  In a range of plenary, small-group, and workshop sessions, delegates explored Justice Education as a concept for presenting, discussing, and creating innovative ideas for promoting social justice through legal education, including new and existing university legal clinics. There were also organized site visits to local justice education projects and a social calendar.

The General Conference was structured to facilitate as much participation as possible by those attending. While there were a small number of plenary sessions, including a few keynote speeches, most of the conference consisted of small group sessions, interactive workshops, and other opportunities for sharing ideas, materials, etc. There was one stream of General Conference sessions with a larger number of paper presentations, overseen by the International Journal of Clinical Legal Education (IJCLE).

The Training-of-Trainers (TOT) workshop was a 2-day interactive teaching workshop designed for both relatively new teachers and teachers with more experience who would be going back to their institutions to use and share what they learned at the workshop.  The TOT focused on active learning with an emphasis on experiential education.  It was led by an international group of highly experienced justice educators.

PART II:  HUMAN RIGHTS RESEARCH AND MONITORING PROGRAM

ANALYSIS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE GAMBIA

The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) monitored and reported human rights violations in countries where we work. From 2015-2016, we focused on The Gambia, especially,  after a failed coup in December 2014, the government arrested an estimated 36 persons accused of involvement in an attempt to overthrow the government, as well as family members of alleged coup plotters. During the coup attempt, security forces reportedly killed three coup plotters. The government arrested and court-martialed a former army officer whom authorities shot and wounded during the coup attempt.

The most serious human rights abuses reported include torture, arbitrary arrest, prolonged pretrial and incommunicado detention; enforced disappearance of citizens; and government harassment and abuse of its critics. Officials routinely used various methods of intimidation to retain power.

The outcome of the research and monitoring program is the compilation of a “Human Rights and Rule of Law Report” focusing on a number of human rights issues that calls for the attention of the international community. It is aimed at making sure that activists and concerned bodies are aware of human rights situation in The Gambia.

WIALA INITIATIVE FOR THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) has been, among others, the protection and promotion of human rights in Africa. This is pursued through various projects and undertakings that involve various activities such as training, public awareness campaign and programs. It is our belief that the implementation of human rights in Africa is only achievable through the incorporation and application of human rights principles in the day-to-day working of the system.

In 2015 2016, Waila with the help of interns conducted research and monitored certain troubled countries in West African.

ACCESS TO JUSTICE PROGRAMME PARTNERSHIP WITH UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT

PROGRAMME (UNDP)

In 2015-2016, The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) had series of consultation and projects discussions to promote access to justice in The Gambia.  One the projects was: Increased coverage and sustainability of legal aid through Legal Empowerment and Community-Based Paralegal Programs.

At the time we discussed this project, we recognized that The Gambia, like in many other African countries, there is a wind of change, change for increased recognition of human rights, democratic principles, good governance and the rule of law. Therefore, Waila in partnership with UNDP, approved the training of (22) community-Based paralegals to be selected within the 11 Districts in (URR). We further discussion that paralegals are increasingly viewed as having an important role to play as an initial source of basic legal advice. This is especially so in locations where there are few or no lawyers or legal aid servicesor where the district capital in which they are based is a long and expensive journey away.

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE WEST AFRICAN INSTITUTE FOR LEGAL AID (WAILA) AND  NATIONAL AGENCY FOR LEGAL AID (NALA)

Between 2015- 2016, The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) collaborated and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Agency for Legal Aid (NALA) The MOU is aimed at establishing a framework for co-operation and collaboration between the parties in the provision of free legal services to indigent Gambians in both civil and criminal matters

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE AFRICAN CENTRE FOR DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS STUDIES (ACDHRS) THE WEST AFRICAN INSTITUTE FOR LEGAL AID (WAILA)

In 2015- 2016, The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) had consultation and worked on a Memorandum of Understanding with The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS). MOU aimed at establishing a framework for co-operation and collaboration between the parties to promote the awareness and adherence of human rights and democratic principles through the provision of free legal services to indigent persons in both civil and criminal matters. The scope of collaboration includes promoting women`s access to justice through Mediation, Conciliation, Arbitration and community –Based paralegal programs.

 

ACCESS TO JUSTICE PROGRAMME PARTNERSHIP MEETING WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION DELEGATION TO THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA,

In 2015- 2016, The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) had consultation and series of meetings  with  the  European Union Delegation The Gambia. The consultations aimed at establishing a framework for co-operation and coordination between (WAILA) and (: European Union Delegation: The Gambia) in respect of improving access to justice needs of economically and socially disadvantaged people in The Gambia.

PART IV:  ORGANIZATIONAL SETBACKS

 CHALLENGES

Having managed under stress conditions in the implementation of the Programs of The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA), we have continued the face numerous challenges:

  • Lack of adequate funds to execute our programs.
  • Limited human and materials resources.
  • Lack of cooperation of some practicing lawyers.

Lack of cooperation from other legal aid providers

CONCLUSION

The 2016-2016 Activity Report of The West African Institute for Legal Aid (WAILA) aimed at identifying trends in the provision of legal aid in West Africa, including a descriptive of the past activities undertaken by WAILA. The Report describes the numerous paths that Waila`s Access to Justice Program has forged to deliver legal services, assistance and information to unrepresented litigants

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