The establishment of the institution for the judicial training gets it’s inspiration from the words of the National Anthem of the Gambia, “Let justice guide our actions towards the common good”.
Beside Articles 214, 216 and 199, of the 1997 Constitution it’s the quest of His Excellency, The President of the Republic of The Gambia to establish a just society. A capable Judiciary, the certainty of laws and procedures are important for the fulfillment of this quest.
The Judiciary has established the GIJT&R tasked inter alia with the responsibility of carrying out continued legal and judicial education of all Judges , Magistrates, Cadis and as well as the support staff . This has been inaugurated by the Honourable Chief Justice, Mr. Ali Nawaz Chowhan on Thursday 15th of May 2014.
The Hon. Chief Justice inter alia dreams of the best Cadi System in The Gambia which will later attract Cadis even from the neighbouring countries. Likewise, ambitious program for other jurisprudences forming part of the judicial system is operational and developing.
So far the Judiciary has provided training for 35 Magistrates and 26 Cadis in the following areas: Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, judgment writing etc,.
Workshops were held for training programme in the far off places for the native chiefs in the areas of Central River Region, North Bank Region and Lower River Region.
The training will require identification of trainers, development of curriculum, liaison with similar institutions abroad for further training for the Judges, Magistrates, Cadis and even the Chairmen of the District Tribunals after they are given initial training here. Some of whom may get intensive training for getting positions of teachers in the future.
The GIJT&R has a leadership support and commitment of the present Chief Justice to direct the process of its ongoing training, education and development and consist of other member of the Judiciary.
The need to identify campuses for establishing a standard institute of the GIJT&R is important to involve reputed scholars in law, Shariah and customary law for continuing training courses.
Presently this is being established at the available Judiciary compounds.
The Chairman, The Hon. Chief Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan after studying the present structures of the GIJTR , recommended the following:
- Development of training programmes on law and identification of Training of Trainers(ToT) for Judges, Magistrates, Cadis, and traditional leaders
- To seek donor support with success
A number of reasons underlie our need for a more institutionalized and structured training framework.
First, a significant challenge lies in the diverse background of individuals appointed as judges, Magistrates and Cadis. Many come from prosecution or other government legal posts, others come from private practice, and occasionally, some come in from academic posts. The age and experience of individuals appointed to the bench also vary widely. This challenge is compounded by the fact that there is no single annual judicial intake. Rather, new judges, Magistrates and Cadis come in as they are recruited or when they become available.
Second, given the judicial officer’s busy trial and work schedules, it is not possible for them to keep abreast of all relevant developments on their own. The Subordinate Courts lack a dedicated judicial training institution to develop and run judicial training. It is therefore necessary to ensure that learning programmes provided are able to motivate judges, magistrates and Cadis to keep themselves updated and continue learning.
The third reason underlying the need for a new training framework is that the public has become ever more demanding and exacting in its expectations of the quality not just of judgments and in quantum of cases conducted.
Presently the GIJT&R have trained staff and resource persons. And will also call upon our own senior Judicial Officers who are well trained and equipped to assist in the training. There is need to have permanent trainers as there might be problems as judicial officer of the Judiciary might not be available easily because they have their own core schedules in the courts.
The Judiciary has limited capacity including lack of human resources (insufficient number of qualified persons) and training. Stakeholders are lacking basic reference materials. In addition, basic official information and data are not readily available, e.g. consolidated description of the number of courts, court staff and judges, cases treated, backlogs, exact number of lawyers working in the country etc.
There is no annual report providing factual information on the number and nature of cases. There are limited bridges and exchange of information between the systems.
A Legal Sector Strategy and Action Plan (2005-2010) was developed, although the document has not been formally adopted by all stakeholders some of the activities it foresaw have been implemented (e.g. establishment of alternative dispute resolution secretariat).
There is need for the development of skills for the disposal of the backlogs and writing of erudite judgments.
The Cadi Courts need training in professionalism, preparation of records, the correct use of Islamic jurisprudence (Usul-ul-Fiqh) and handling of shariah cases in the jurisdiction vested in them by the 1997 constitution.
The primary objective of the GIJT&R is to build the capacity of the Judiciary staff and to continue in- service training to ensure that judicial training takes place on a systematic and structured basis, and that it addresses not just present challenges but those that lie beyond the horizon.
The Judiciary’s work depends on public awareness of, and respect for, judicial process, the Judiciary’s ability to resolve conflicts and foster respect for the rule of law is inextricably tied to its institutional independence and transparency. It is important to maintain professional and technical personnel while simultaneously improving the managerial capacity of actors within those bodies is critical to ensuring the effective and timely administration of justice.
Training in modern legal analysis and application will include topics in Shariah, constitutional law, Judgment writing, advocacy, ethics and leadership skills and managerial capacity training which will cover topics including court administration and case management.
Selected individuals will receive additional specialized training as trainers in order broaden the Project’s training impact and to ensure its sustainability. The Project will also develop training materials and curriculum for future trainings.
We note that the International Agencies who are partners in development through access to justice in their papers and deliberations have also emphasized the need for the training.
This institute by God’s grace will endeavour to fulfil the expectation of His Excellency the President, the people of The Gambia and those who express their desire for better access to the justice system.
There is also a great need for a good library to cater for learning and capacity building. Efforts are being made to build one.
A fund will be created for running the affairs of the institution. The Administrator will look for the finances and will be assisted by the Coordinator and the Secretary.
In-service trainings carried out:
- In-service Training workshop for Cadis on on civil and criminal procedure, advocacy and Judgment writing, 26th -29th June 2014
- In-service Training workshop for Magistrates on on civil and criminal procedure, advocacy and Judgment writing, 26th -29th June 2014
- In-service Training workshop for Cadis, 26th -29th September 2014
- In-service Training workshop for Magistrates on Punishment and sentencing,22nd November 2014
Planned in-service training:
- In-service Training workshop for Magistrates on Judgement writing,Jan 2015
- In-service Training workshop for Judges on Mercantile, Banking and Insurance law, Feb, 2015
- In-service Training workshop for Court Staff on records keeping and management, Jan 2015
- In-service Training workshop for Magistrates on medical jurisprudence and forensic psychology
The core body for administering the affairs of the institute until the governing body is established will be:
- The Hon Chief Justice A.N Chowhan Chairman
- The Hon J. Gibou Janneh
- The Hon J. Raymond Sock Member
- The Hon J. Penda Dibba Member/Administrator
- The Hon. Judicial Secretary Deputy Administrator
- Her Worship Amie Jarra Secretary
The Board of studies:
- The Hon Chief Justice A. N Chowhan Chairman
- The Hon. Justice Raymond Sock Member
- The Hon. Justice Penda Dibba Member
- The Hon. Chairman Omar SeckaMember