Fifty Alkalolu drawn from the eleven districts in the Central River Region on Tuesday began a three-day capacity building training on dispute resolution techniques, the role of an alkalo in customary justice system and the Local Government Act.
The training, organised through the Gambia-EU Cooperation Access to Justice and Legal Education Project, is aimed at increasing the knowledge of the alkalolu on their roles and responsibilities with a view to enabling them execute their duties effectively and participate in the maintenance of peace in their respectively villages.
Speaking at the official opening in Janjangbureh, the Regional Governor Alhaji Omar Khan said the training would help to increase the knowledge of the alkalolu in their service delivery, particularly in the maintenance of peace and order in their villages, adding that it is of paramount importance to revitalise our traditional norms and values.
“You have to participate well and ask more questions in order to enable you increase your understanding of customary justice system and also to improve your techniques in solving some minor cases without even them going to court,” he added.
Governor Khan noted that land disputes is one of the challenges faced by alkalolu in his region, thus he called on participants to always seek advice in dealing with such kind of problems in order to enable them solve these matters in a very transparent and amicable manner.
“If there are any cases that you cannot solve at your village level it is of paramount importance for you to refer the matter to your district chief with immediate effect,” he said, adding that government will not compromise in stopping matters that will jeopardise the peace and stability we continue to enjoy.
For his part, Justice Edrisa Fafa Mbai, the Project’s Expert Customary Law dwelled on the importance of the project. He explained that the project is being implemented over a period of 25 months from November 2014 to January 2017.
Throughout this period, he said, the EU funded Access to Justice and Legal Education Project will advance its objectives to improve access to legal services and remedy justice services such as alternative dispute resolution with a focus on women, children and other vulnerable groups, legal education and research, and management of court cases.
Justice Mbai added that its main activities in support of access to justice include the implementation of civic awareness campaign on access to justice mechanism sensitisation of customary leaders such as the village heads to standard of good justice practices, and support mediation and arbitration as alternative dispute resolution.
The Civic Education Expert for the Project, Neneh M.C. Cham, said their aim is to strengthen the capacities of the alkalolus knowledge on some of the work they do at their respective villages, adding that at the end of the three days training, participants would be able to understand some of techniques to be used in solving some of the problems.
Alkalolu, she said, are the first point of call when issues occur in our villages. Therefore, she added, it is important for their knowledge to be increased with a view to enable them solve some problems amicably without them even going to court.
by Momodou Jawo in Basse, URR