Public Account Committee and Public Enterprise Committee PAC/PEC of the National Assembly recently adopted the financial statement and annual report of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Secretariat (ADRS).
Delivering the report before members of the National Assembly in Banjul, Ms Penda Gibril, Chief Executive Officer of ADRS, said the ADRS secretariat was established in 2008 and was headed by Dr Ebrima Lowe from 2008 to January 2012.
From February 2012 to October 2012, the deputy executive, Ms Penda Gibril, was the acting-head of the secretariat until her confirmation as Executive Secretary, she said.
She told PAC/PEC that the ADRS Act of 2005 makes no provisions for a Board, and in 2012 the Minister of Justice constituted an ad-hoc administration board.
In late 2009, she went on, the ADRS secured funding from the UNDP Access to Justice programme, under the Governance Unit, which kicked off a long running partnership with a key funding partner.
From 2010, this partnership took earnest path with the UNDP assisting further sensitization and in the setting up of two additional ADRS regional centres, among other projects, said the ADRS CEO.
According to her, the ADRS also commenced bi-lateral ties with the European Union to receive support under their Access to Justice Programme.
She said that in June 2012, an ADRS expert from the EU and the AG Executive Secretary held consultative meetings and embarked on a weeklong tour to the regional centres to assess the needs of the ADR structure currently on the ground.
However, this project funding was yet to commence, and all projects are currently being funded by the UNDP, she added.
The ADRS boss said further that her institution has also embarked on forging relationships with various sectors in Government and individuals and non-government entities by virtue of the nature of work being carried out.
The secretariat has handled over 700 cases to date, which have been resolved, she disclosed, saying the establishment of the Regional Centres in 2010 were welcomed by the residents of the URR and NBR, as a means to address problems in their community.
However, she stated, due to the vastness of these regions and the limited resources available to the secretariat, it was difficult to cover the entire region to assist the people with their dispute and if the people in the regions could access the centres their disputes could be resolved.
NAM's comments and contributions
Hon. Sulayman Joof, NAM for Serrekuda West, thanked the ADRS and called on them to go back and regularize their activities and sensitize Gambians more about the role of the ADRS because most Gambians do not know the functions of the ADRS.
They should do more sensitization about the ADRS because this is very important, he said.
Hon. Joof asked the ADRS about their offices in Basse and Farafeni staff, adding that in their report in 2008-2009, "if you go inside the report, you would see 2009-2012, and this has to be regularized".
Hon. Ba Faye Saidykhan, member for Jarra Central, called on the ADRS to improve on their work, because the ADRS is very important and its services would reduce the cost of going to court.
"I commended you for your efforts," he said.