By Adama Tine
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) through the West African Network of Central Authorities and Prosecutors Against Organized Crime (WACAP) in partnership with the Ministry of Justice on Friday concluded a two-day retreat for National Assembly Members (NAMs) and other stakeholders on the Mutual Legal Assistance Bill that is due for consideration at the National Assembly this September.
The retreat was aimed at raising awareness on the content of the bill and any amendments and/or additions that may be necessary so as to guide members during their deliberations on the Bill.
The event held at Tamala Beach Resort was funded by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
Christiana Fomenky, UNODC representative in Dakar in her remarks on behalf of KOICA said “assisting countries in the West African region to build the necessary capacity to address the challenges of terrorism and organized crime is part of the fight against threats to the region’s security, stability and development related to the peace scope of KOICA’s vision”. She expressed the hope that the retreat will help Gambian parliamentarians meet the system challenges with strong involvement and commitment through coordination among stakeholders and key actors of the field.
Hussein Thomasi, Solicitor General and Legal Secretary at the Justice Ministry said the Gambia is committed to comply with international best practices. He added that his ministry plays a vital role and recognizes the need to develop mechanism for international cooperation on mutual legal assistance to address illicit financial flows and combat transnational organized crimes and criminal networks.
“We have tabled a number of bills before the National Assembly for enactment. With the enactment of these bills into law, we will be able to have a robust legal framework that will address serious global criminal challenges that are detrimental to our national development agenda,” he said.
In the Gambia, a draft Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) Bill was submitted to the National Assembly for review and adoption during the June 2021 session. But due to the number of bills that were being considered, it was postponed to October 2021, he announced.