Lamin Jarjue, Lawyer, The Gambia

Strategic litigation training case study: Lamin Jarjue

 

“Before I thought that our laws did not limit freedom of expression or the media – after the training I realised we had a gap and that these laws had a negative influence on freedom of expression”

 

Lamin, a lawyer who works in the Ministry of Justice of the Gambia, attended the litigation workshop organized by MLDI in the Gambia. His motivation was to enhance his understanding of international standards on free speech and the way these are applied in neighbouring countries.

He says the training and his enriched knowledge gave him a different perspective on the Gambian laws around freedom of expression. He became familiar with some of the issues which need to be addressed domestically in order for domestic laws to comply with international standards. “Before I thought that our laws did not limit freedom of expression or the media – after the training I realised we had a gap and that these laws had a negative influence on freedom of expression” he said.

In addition to a better understanding of international case law and standards, the training also “helped me to recognise where there has been a violation of the right to freedom of expression.” Also the training provided him with knowledge which allows him to develop his case theory and evidence.

Although Lamin works with in the Gambian Ministry of Justice, and is thus not able to represent journalists, he thinks the training he received has enabled him to protect journalists from unfair treatment and charges from within the Ministry. “If a journalist is being charged, I have a duty to use the learnings from the training, look at international standards and challenge these charges, and if needed encourage the charges to be dropped. If our practices don’t meet international standards, they need to be challenged,” he said.

He also says that the training manuals are very useful. “I lecture at two colleges, one on constitutional law which includes media law, and I refer to a lot of the content and case law in the manual and share some of this content with the students. In addition, I teach a module on gender and human rights and the manual also comes in useful for this and I share certain parts of it with the students. I have also shared and referenced it with colleagues in the ministry”.

“I want to add that the training has given me a theoretical understanding of the international courts, such as ECOWAS, the African Court and the African Commission – I now monitor these courts more and have a better understanding of what the requirements and expectations are of litigating at these courts”.

“The training definitely met my expectations – it really shaped by view on freedom of expression and the rights of the press”.

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