News / Africa

New Website Gives Senegalese Easier Access to Laws

Multimedia

Audio
Julia Ritchey

Legal scholars in Senegal have a new website that makes the country's laws more accessible and gives Senegalese lawyers an opportunity to contribute their own research. The website is the brainchild of a U.S. law professor.

Tracy Bach, a professor at the Vermont University School of Law, says she wanted to create a one-stop source for Senegalese legal research. She came up with the idea of a website while completing a Fulbright Scholarship in Senegal last year, working alongside law faculty and students.

Bach worked on the project with technicians at Harvard University's Berkman Center, which focuses on ways the Internet can be used to increase the rule of law in developing countries.

In December, Bach's team launched a wiki, a type of website that allows users to contribute their knowledge on specific topics.

"So what a wiki does, and in particular this wiki, helps to develop a community of people, people who are interested in the law and how the law can be used in a democracy, and it not only gives them a place to find these tools, but encourages them to post what they know," Bach said.

Anyone who registers on the site can submit entries or information on Senegalese laws, which is then reviewed by Bach and her colleagues before being published.

Bach said that while in Dakar, she sometimes had to shuttle from office to office to find pieces of law that could not be found online.

"Here in the U.S. we can Google almost anything and find the relevant U.S. law in point,” Bach added. “In contrast, in Senegal it's hard just to find the law itself because the printed form is not very accessible. And that's what digitalizing does, it makes it more accessible."

She realized that having easier access to these sources, and having a vehicle to publish analyses and interpretations of the law, would benefit Senegal's legal scholars.

"Fundamentally, it's not so much to stay abreast of dynamic law, though I think that's a good idea,” she said. “It really is to build a community of people who want to use the law to improve the rule of democracy in Senegal."

Senegal's democracy, like many African countries, has largely emphasized power through the executive branch.

Bach is hopeful that members within Senegal's government will join the wiki effort and post information from their ministries.

Bach's larger goal is to expand the site from beyond Senegal to other West African countries.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid