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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Momodou Posted - 15 Nov 2019 : 13:26:50
The Draft Constitution is here:
https://crc220.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/CRC-DRAFT-CONSTITUTION.pdf


15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Momodou Posted - 29 May 2020 : 14:23:50
PRESS RELEASE

GAZETTING OF THE BILL TO PROMULGATE THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA, 2020


The Ministry of Justice wishes to inform the general public that the Bill for an Act to promulgate the Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia, 2020 and repeal the Constitution of The Republic of The Gambia, 1997 has now been completed and was published in the Gazette yesterday 28th May, 2020.
This is the first such publication. The second publication of the Bill in the Gazette shall occur 3 months from this date. Thereafter, the Bill should be ready for introduction into the National Assembly at least 10 days after the date of the second publication in the Gazette pursuant to section 226 of the 1997 Constitution.
The Ministry wishes to thank the general public for their continued interest and engagement in this Constitutional review process.
Momodou Posted - 21 May 2020 : 22:42:42
Gambia Civil Society Recommend to Key Stakeholders To Stay On Course For A New Constitution

Banjul, 21 May 2020, TANGO Conference Hall


The civil society organizations in The Gambia welcome the Government's decision to gazette the draft Constitution on or before May 30th before presenting it to the National Assembly as prescribed by the 1997 Constitution. This is indeed timely and consistent with citizens’ expectations.

We commend the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) for its effort to draft a new Constitution. The CRC’s consultations with citizens at home and in the diaspora were broad-based, inclusive, transparent, and interactive. The CRC also consulted selected institutions such as the Cabinet, the National Assembly, the political parties, the religious bodies, and the civil society for their opinions, which enabled the CRC to further improve the initial draft released in November 2019.

The final draft Constitution which was submitted to the President of The Republic on March 30th, 2020 and then released to the public the day after is indeed a fair reflection of the diverse opinions of the Gambian people.

Whilst not all opinions expressed in the consultative process have been incorporated the final draft, the civil society believes that the CRC has managed to produce a draft Constitution based on the views expressed by the majority of Gambians. The CRC also accommodated minority views in the interest of serving all citizens. The final draft Constitution has appropriately taken on board very progressive provisions from different African Constitutions and has now obtained both local and international acclaim.

As the executive and legislative branches of government consider the draft Constitution, the civil society offers the following recommendations to ensure that the constitutional review process is successful and reflects the will of the people:

TO THE EXECUTIVE

It is incumbent on the current government to take all urgent steps necessary to ensure that the draft Constitution is submitted unaltered to the National Assembly to respect the aspirations of the people.

The civil society recalls that short term gains must not overshadow the importance of a Constitution that serves the interests of present and future generations.

The civil society further urges the executive to sponsor the reform of the electoral laws once the new Constitution is passed.

TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

The Government announced that the final draft Constitution will be presented to the National Assembly in August for their deliberations.

The destiny of the nation will once again be entrusted to you, the National Assembly, to vote in a transformative draft Constitution that will finally obliterate the vestiges of 22 years of dictatorship and usher in a Third Republic.

The Civil Society urges the National Assembly to take into consideration, in its deliberations, the extensive public consultations that culminated into the final draft.

The Civil Society reiterates to the National Assembly the urgency of completing their deliberations and voting on the final draft in time to ensure the 2021 presidential election is held within a new constitutional framework.

TO POLITICAL PARTIES

Whilst acknowledging the contributions of the Political Parties to the draft Constitution during the consultative process, the Civil Society believe that your position on the final draft Constitution will be a key determinant of whether or not the country will usher in a new constitution in time for the 2021 presidential election. We therefore urge all political parties, as primary stakeholders, to prepare their National Assembly members in readiness for their deliberations on the draft in August of this year.

The civil society acknowledges and agrees with the political parties on the importance of respecting the rule of law and holding a credible referendum in time, before the 2021 presidential election.

TO THE INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION

The Civil Society calls on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to honor its mandate by the timely conduct of voter registration leading to the holding of a constitutional referendum by the end of 2020.

Being fully aware of the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic and time limitation towards the 2021 election, the civil society urges the IEC to share with the people of The Gambia its plan of actions, calendar and challenges thereof relating to the conduct of voter registration and referendum. This will allow for proper planning with major stakeholders including the Ministry of Health, resource mobilisation and citizen engagement for the exercises to be rolled out while upholding recommended barrier gestures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The aspirations of the people of The Gambia is to hold the 2021 election under the new constitutional framework to usher in a new democratic era for the current and future generations.

TO CITIZENS

The Civil Society asks the citizenry to continue to engage and demonstrate commitment to ensuring that the final draft Constitution, which reflects the will of the people, is passed before the 2021 election. The future of our country is at stake and the choice is between regression by maintaining the 1997 Constitution or marching forward into a new destiny by birthing a new Constitution.

The Constitution is the first building block in the creation of The “New Gambia”. Ultimately, The Gambia we have is The Gambia we want and The Gambia we create.

TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

The Civil Society recognizes the important role played by the international community in the restoration of our democracy and their continued support in the strengthening good governance and sustainable development.

The Civil Society calls on our international partners to continue their support of the Constitutional Review Process to its logical conclusion to enable the citizenry exercise their choice through a referendum and usher in a Third Republic before the 2021 election.

We call on our development partners to continue supporting the Government and the civil society to enable the country to achieve this major milestone.

As we call on all stakeholders of the constitutional review process to remain committed to introduce a new Constitution, the civil society pledges to provide the necessary support to help our country turn a new page.

Conclusion

The goal of the Constitution building process is to enable the country transition to a full-fledged democracy that stands on the values and standards of sovereignty, separation of powers, republicanism, democracy, national unity, public participation, and peace. The promulgation of a new Constitution based on the above-mentioned values is the foundation of a “New Gambia” and the most important milestone in the consolidation of our democracy.

Signatory Civil Society Organizations

CC:

Secretary General, Office of the President of the Republic of The Gambia
Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of The Gambia
Chief Justice of the Republic of The Gambia
Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission
Political Parties
United Nations Special Envoy for West Africa
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Mission in The Gambia
European Union Office in The Gambia
United Nations Resident Coordinator in The Gambia
Diplomatic Corps
Media
Momodou Posted - 14 May 2020 : 16:11:18
Draft Constitution to be presented to National Assembly in August, 2020

State House, Banjul, May 14, 2020


– As required by the Constitutional Review Commission Act 2018, His Excellency, President Adama Barrow having received the Draft Constitution on 30th March 2020, the Ministry of Justice will publish the national document in the Gazette before the end of May 2020, before it is subsequently presented to the National Assembly in August 2020.

It could be recalled that in June 2018, President Barrow inaugurated a Constitutional Review Commission to undertake a review of the 1997 Constitution and to come up with a proposed Draft that will be subjected to a referendum and usher in a Third Republic for The Gambia.

The Office of the President therefore assures the pubic that the due processes will be followed in strengthening our democracy.
Momodou Posted - 31 Mar 2020 : 18:10:11
STATEMENT BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE ON THE OCCASION OF THE SUBMISSION OF THE NEW DRAFT CONSTITUTION

Your Excellency, the President
Your Excellency, the Vice President Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly My Lord,
The Chief Justice
My Lord, the Chairperson of the CRC
Cabinet Colleagues, Commissioners of the CRC
Mr Secretary General

On behalf of His Excellency, the President, and his entire Cabinet, I welcome you all on the occasion of the submission of the new draft constitution by the Constitutional Review Commission to His Excellency, the President, as required by Section 21 of the Constitutional Review Commission Act 2017.

Your Excellency,

Three years ago, your Government embarked upon the most ambitious and comprehensive governance reform agenda of any administration in the history of our country. The submission of this draft constitution today follows several other significant milestones in this endeavor. Exactly one year ago, the Janneh Commission, one of several activities undertaken by your administration to right the wrongs of the past, also submitted its report to you on the financial corruption of former President Jammeh and his close associates.

Your Excellency,

We currently have a number of bills tabled before the National Assembly for the enactment of laws that will radically transform the legal landscape of our country particularly with respect to our criminal justice system.

Moreover, under your administration, we have witnessed the most far reaching improvements on the conditions of service in the judicial and legal services of our country. The tide is beginning to turn in our favour now, and of all the progress made thus far, this has been one of the most profound and satisfying achievements for me personally. I can now see the smiles on the faces of my staff and I cannot thank you enough for this.

And today, Your Excellency, we are here for the submission of a new draft constitution that will usher in a 3rd republic and introduce a new governance architecture with all the promises of a brighter future, a more stable and democratic society with adequate checks and balances between the three organs of State, and a conducive environment for the liberty and prosperity of the individual.

Your Excellency,

Today marks yet another significant achievement of your administration, and another fulfilled promise to the people of this country. You promised a new constitution within two years, and you have delivered on your promise. It is now up to us, the Gambian people, to uphold our part of the bargain. Like all constitution building processes, not everyone can or will be satisfied with everything in the new draft constitution. But we are faced with a clear choice: we either embrace this new draft which is being presented here today in whole and lay the foundations for a better future for our children, or get stuck in the past with the current 1997 constitution and all its retrogressive provisions that will frustrate our democratic march into a better future. I am certain that the Gambian peoples’ thirst for change remains unquenched and I am confident that they will embrace this new draft constitution after sober reflection.

Your Excellency,

I wish to take this opportunity to thank the Chairperson of the CRC, Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow, and his fellow Commissioners for their outstanding professionalism, commitment and dedication to national duty.

Mr Chairperson, we have keenly followed the progress of your Commission right from the beginning, partly because we funded it, and we have been impressed by all your efforts to ensure that the credibility of the entire process, from beginning to end, remains sacrosanct. But this does not come as a surprise given the character of the members of the Commission under your distinguished leadership including experienced legal draftspersons and human rights lawyers, media practitioners and civil society representatives. With this team, we were always confident that we will have a constitution that will faithfully and accurately reflect the wishes and aspirations of the Gambian people.

We of course know that it has been a long and challenging journey for you with all the intensive consultations with Gambians both at home and abroad, but our faith in your ability to deliver with the highest standards of professionalism has never been in doubt. Never in the history of our nation has our constitution been written in such a manner. You have done your compatriots proud and proved to the world beyond that our country has what it takes to take care of its own business. With this new constitution, we have with our own hands, set forth a path to our future on our own and for ourselves. It is indeed a proud moment in our history.

Your Excellency,

Allow me to take this opportunity to end with a note of caution about this constitution building process from now on. The Coronavirus pandemic and the measures adopted under the state of public emergency will inevitably have a significant impact on our ability to follow timelines and meet deadlines. This will have serious ramifications on other related activities we had anticipated in the course of this year such as the new voter registration exercise or the referendum for the adoption of the new constitution. There are no immediate answers to this conundrum at the moment but we will have to find ways around these unexpected turn of events in order to meet the expectations of our countrymen and women. More information will be shared with the general public as we consider possible alternatives.

Lastly, I wish to thank the Executive Secretary and all the staff at the CRC for their support to the Commissioners. I also wish to thank our international partners, the UNDP and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, for their support to this process. You have all been part of a truly historic exercise and the Government of The Gambia is grateful to you for this support.

I thank you all.
Momodou Posted - 31 Mar 2020 : 08:52:16
REMARKS BY H. E. ADAMA BARROW THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA
EVENT: PRESENTATION CEREMONY OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMISSION’S REPORT ON THE REVIEW OF THE 1997 CONSTITUTION
VENUE: STATE HOUSE, BANJUL
DATE: 30th March 2020


Honourable Cabinet Members,
Chairman and Members of the CRC,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome you all to this presentation ceremony of the Constitutional Review Commission’s Report on the Review of the 1997 Republican Constitution of The Gambia.

As outlined, this exercise was to provide Gambians with the constitutional framework to enjoy their rights as citizens of the country. This springs off from the belief that every Gambian should comfortably relate to the Constitution, and that our institutions must be structured for sustained performance. The premise is that a strong and all-inclusive Constitution will provide a safe haven for all citizens to enjoy the path to peace, freedom and prosperity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The draft Constitution has generated a lot of debate from different interest groups, which I have been following keenly; however, as a nation, we should be able to unite on the basic principles of human rights, institutional accountability, respect for the rule of law and the dignity of the person.

The new Constitution should promote and nurture best practices, and maintain our values as a nation. I would reiterate, therefore, that accommodating our diversity allows us all to enjoy the fundamentals of democracy, freedom and the rule of law. Furthermore, it will allow Government to focus on development, and create the environment for all to enjoy their citizenship and realise their full potentials.

As Commissioners, you were assigned the responsibility of guiding the country to build a strong foundation for a Constitution that will stand the test of time.

In 2018, during your swearing-in ceremony, I referred to governance as a process, and argued that no single government can complete their nation-building process in any particular era. In spite of this, the cornerstone of our democracy and its vital constitutional provisions should not be shaken, nor shattered by any change of government.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As stated earlier, the mandate of this Commission was to review the 1997 Gambian Constitution, and submit a draft Constitution for the Third Republic after due consultations with Gambians.

Having completed that enormous national task, history will judge you, when governments come and go without having to change the adopted Constitution.

I thank you all most sincerely, and commend you exceptionally for submitting your report within the agreed timeframe. I pledge that my government will review the report, and share its comments on it.

Allow me to conclude by thanking the Chairman, Justice Cherno Jallow, his fellow commissioners and technical support team for spearheading this noble venture and for all the sacrifices to contribute to the rebuilding process of our nation.

Long live The Gambia and its People.

I thank you all for your kind attention.
Momodou Posted - 30 Mar 2020 : 19:18:24
REMARKS BY JUSTICE CHERNO SULAYMAN JALLOW, QC (JSC), CHAIRPERSON OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMISSION, ON THE SUBMISSION OF THE DRAFT CONSTITUTION AND THE REPORT TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA, ADAMA BARROW

Date: Monday, 30th March, 2020

Venue: Cabinet Office, Office of the President


Your Excellency, the President of the Republic
Your Excellency, Madam Vice President
Hon. Speaker of the National Assembly
My Lord, the Hon. Chief Justice
Hon. Attorney General & Minister of Justice
Hon. Ministers for:
(i) Local Government, Lands & Regional Administration
(ii) Tourism
Secretary General
Secretary to Cabinet
Madam Vice Chairperson of the CRC
Other fellow CRC Commissioners
CRC Secretary
Researcher and our able scribe, Ndey Ngoneh Jeng
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Morning!

Permit me, Your Excellency, to commence my remarks by thanking you personally for acceding to our request to have this time set aside to receive me and my fellow Commissioners to formally submit to you the results of our assignment as Commissioners of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC). This has come at a difficult time for our country, but particularly for you as leader of our beautiful country, as we all grapple with the global pandemic of Covid-19 which is wreaking havoc around the world, The Gambia being no exception. We continue to pray to the Almighty God, who has power over all beings and all things, and who knows best, to deliver us and indeed humanity in general from the ravages of this virus. We also pray for your good health and strength and that of your lieutenants to do the best you can to give the country the hope our people need to persevere during this difficult time.

2. Today I am pleased, on behalf of my fellow Commissioners, to report to Your Excellency that the assignment you appointed us to perform back in June 2018 is now ready. When Your Excellency sworn into office the Chairperson, the Vice Chairperson and the 9 other Commissioners (all present here this morning) to serve as Commissioners of the CRC pursuant to section 5 of the Constitutional Review Commission Act, 2017 (“the CRC Act”), you reposed confidence in us and implored us at the same time to work diligently to execute our assignment in 2 respects: firstly, to review the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia and write a new Constitution; secondly, to prepare a report with regard to the new Constitution. This was the fundamental purpose and object of the CRC Act as provided in section 6 (1) thereof. We were required to carry out our assignment in 18 months, with the possibility of an extension not exceeding 6 months as the CRC Chairperson may recommend and as the President may grant. The CRC was able to draft and publish the proposed Draft Constitution within the period of 18 months (which lapsed on 4th December, 2019). Your Excellency was kind in acceding to my subsequent 3 recommendations to extend the date for the submission of the results of our assignment up to 31st December, 2019 initially, then to 31st January, 2020 and finally to 30th March, 2020. This was in accordance with section 9 (2) of the CRC Act. In effect, the CRC has taken less than 2 years to deliver on its assignment.

3. In performing its functions, the CRC was required under section 6 (2) of the CRC Act to be guided by certain principles. These are (a) to seek public opinion and take into account such proposals as the CRC considered appropriate; (b) to review the current Constitution of 1997; (c) to adhere to The Gambia’s values and ethos; and (d) to safeguard and promote the following:

(i) firstly, The Gambia’s existence as a sovereign independent State;

(ii) secondly, the republican system of governance of The Gambia, which includes the country’s democratic values and respect for and promotion of the rule of law and respect for human rights;

(iii) thirdly, the separation of powers;

(iv) fourthly, national unity, cohesion and peace;

(v) fifthly, periodic democratic elections that are based on universal adult suffrage, including term limits for occupying the Office of President; and

(vi) lastly, the continued existence of The Gambia as a secular State whereby all faiths are treated equally and fairly and encouraged to foster national cohesion and unity.

4. In relation to all of these matters, the CRC Act required the CRC to afford all Gambians, both at home and abroad to the extent feasible, “the opportunity to freely express their opinions and make suggestions on matters they feel should be considered in the Constitution”. Furthermore, the CRC was empowered (where it considered it necessary) to invite persons to appear before the Commission to make representations on subject matters of their choice or on topics specified by the Commission. In the discharge and exercise of all of these functions and powers, the CRC, by virtue of section 7 of the CRC Act, was protected against the control or direction of any other person or authority; in other words, the CRC was given the desired independence to perform its functions as envisaged under the CRC Act. In addition, the CRC was empowered under section 11 of the CRC Act to establish such technical committees as it considered necessary to facilitate and assist the Commission in executing its assignment. The CRC invoked this power effectively to tap into national expertise to assist with the constitutional review process.

5. I am pleased to report, Your Excellency, that the CRC has throughout the performance of its functions and exercise of the discretionary powers vested in it under the CRC Act, adhered to the statutorily established functions and exercised its discretionary powers in a fair and balanced manner, bearing in mind at all times matters that it considered to be in the best interest and future of The Gambia. I made sure of this as Chairperson. Indeed from the inception of our work, I made sure that the ground rules were properly established and agreed upon. Our role as Commissioners was to facilitate public opinions, play the role of the devil’s advocate by ensuring the full coverage of all angles to an issue, make an assessment of what was essential or fundamental for inclusion in the Draft Constitution, and ensure a properly and effectively drafted Constitution that left little to no room for interpretation or uncertainty. Personal beliefs were eschewed and kept out of the decision-making process.

6. The processes and procedures adopted in developing the Draft Constitution are articulated in detail in the Report I will be submitting to Your Excellency shortly, along with the Draft Constitution. Suffice it to say, however, that the CRC approach from the inception of its work had been to utilise all available practical platforms to afford Gambians and other stakeholders the opportunity to participate in the Constitution-building process. The platforms included face-to-face public consultations, focus group discussions, written submissions on the Issues Document, online surveys, household surveys, face-to-face discussions with other stakeholders (including the 3 organs of State, relevant Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, civil society groups, faith-based organisations, specific interest group associations and individuals), and review of media debates (including social media). In essence, Your Excellency, these consultation platforms represented the first of their type and magnitude in constitutional development in the history of The Gambia. No citizen can legitimately claim not to have been given the opportunity to participate in the CRC’s constitutional review process.

7. While ultimately the CRC Act empowered the CRC to exercise its judgment on what it considered appropriate, the CRC gave enormous credence to public opinion, recognising that Constitution-building must be centred on the people to be governed by the Constitution to give it the legitimacy to stand out as a credible and generally accepted instrument; hence the CRC’s motto of transparency, inclusiveness, representation, participation and ownership. Our own direct interface with the Gambian people (both at home and abroad) and other stakeholders, has been an eye-opener to the circumstances and needs of the people and provided us the opportunity to consider constitutional development in our context in its broadest perspective. We are enormously grateful to our citizens for the active interest they had developed in the constitutional review process from the commencement of our assignment and, perhaps even more importantly, the ideas they contributed to the development of their new Constitution. We, the Commissioners, drew inspiration from them and, without the ideas they so graciously shared with us, and sometimes with emotion and strong passion, the Draft Constitution would not have been of the quality we believe it is. Non-citizens and other stakeholders (within and outside the country) who contributed ideas to the CRC had equally made a huge positive difference to the work of the CRC.

8. Constitution-building is a serious business. But it is also a herculean task, especially when the drafters of the new Constitution are confronted with tons of wishes and aspirations for inclusion in that Constitution. When Your Excellency tasked us to review the 1997 Constitution, you were emphatic about the need to develop a Constitution that will serve the test of time. This, therefore, required us to take a serious look at key constitutional issues relative to the present and future generations. In other words, what is best for this country today and going into the future so that both the present and future generations are governed by the same rules, and such that an amendment of the Constitution will only be necessitated by the most exceptional of circumstances. To achieve this within a period of 18 months was not easy and required many long days and nights to get us to this day. We remain forever grateful to the Almighty God for giving us both the strength and the commitment to achieve this for our country and as our leaders expected of us.

9. When the CRC published the first draft of the proposed Constitution in November 2019, it had 3 objectives. The first was to give Gambians and other stakeholders the opportunity to determine whether the wishes and aspirations they expressed to the CRC during the first round of public consultations had been properly addressed and, where any of those had been omitted, for the CRC to explain its reasons for the omission (exercising the authority vested in it under the CRC Act). The second was to afford further dialogue on matters that could be clarified better and ensure a better Draft Constitution. The third was to invite opinions on new important elements that the Draft Constitution could usefully provide. We achieved all 3 objectives and exercised proper discretion in that regard. The participants in the second round of public consultations were actively engaged with the CRC and our process of constitutional development was further enriched.

10. We had only one regret, one we did not envisage and, frankly, did not consider would have been as contentious and blistering as it turned out to be. This was the non-use in the proposed Draft Constitution of the word “secular” in defining The Gambia as a Sovereign Republic. The debate, most unfortunately, took on a religious dimension and at times became unnecessarily confrontational. Not even the CRC was spared and we were accused of all sorts of things and vilified, sometimes in the most distasteful language. We met with the leaders of both the Christian and Muslim communities to urge restraint and dialogue between themselves. The Gambia belongs to all of its citizens and all deserve to be equally and fairly treated; that goes for all religions practised and/or manifested in this country. The CRC was never oblivious to this fact and we never took sides, whether on this or some other subject of constitutional development. While some may say that whatever we do – secular or no secular – we will be damned, the CRC remains steadfast and optimistic that all persons of all faiths will give higher credence to our long tradition of living closely together as Gambians, by safeguarding and promoting “national cohesion, unity and peace” as provided in section 6 (2) (iv) of the CRC Act.

11. I choose not to go into the details of the Draft Constitution at this presentation. The provisions of the Draft Constitution are, in my considered view, clear in their nature, scope and intent and are best understood by reading the provisions therein. We have complemented the Draft Constitution with a Report which provides relevant background information, the methodology adopted by the CRC in its decision-making processes, the issues considered, a review of the provisions of the 1997 Constitution and an analysis of the issues and the decisions taken by the CRC. In the very few areas where the CRC deviated from majority public opinion, the reasons for doing so are provided; these were explained to the people during the CRC’s second round of public consultations and the reasons given for such deviation were generally accepted. I recommend, therefore, that the Draft Constitution should be read together with the accompanying Report.

12. At this time before I conclude, I crave Your Excellency’s indulgence to permit me, on behalf of my fellow Commissioners, to place on record my thanks and appreciation to the so many people who took the journey and trekked the challenging road with us to get us here today. I will mention only a few, as I do not wish to encroach too deep into my Vice Chairperson’s Vote of Thanks for this presentation.

13. First, I thank and commend Your Excellency, Adama Barrow, The President of the Republic for the foresight and confidence you reposed in the CRC Commissioners to undertake this monumental task on behalf of the people of The Gambia. You initiated our journey and supported us all the way. I am certain that history will be kind to you for your foresight and leadership in this regard.

14. I am grateful for the presence of the Hon. Chief Justice, Hassan Bubacarr Jallow, here with us today. The CRC Act specifically identified you as the Chairperson of the CRC, but you exercised the discretion given to you by the same Act to nominate me for appointment in your stead. I thank you, My Lord Chief Justice, for your confidence and support. I can only hope that I have acquitted myself creditably.

15. I thank the Hon. Madam Speaker for your support of the CRC. Indeed you were the first senior public official to call me, following the publication of the proposed Draft Constitution, to commend the CRC for its work and for encouraging us to continue the journey to the end.

16. I thank the UNDP for their sterling support of the CRC from inception. They helped us establish the CRC Secretariat and continued their support all the way to the end. I must single out Ms Nessie Golakai and her able lieutenants for always being there for us and for gently putting up with our seemingly endless demands.

17. Similar thanks and appreciation go the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance – to the leadership in Addis Ababa, The Hague and Sweden – for their commitment and outstanding support to the CRC, including a review of the Draft Constitution. Not only did they agree to and sign a memorandum of understanding with the CRC, they also facilitated an orientation on constitutional development for the Commissioners and the CRC Secretary, provided training to the CRC staff (including staff of the National Council for Civic Education and representatives of the media fraternity), and teamed up with our statisticians in gauging and assessing public opinions on specific constitutional issues.

18. I also recognise the great efforts and support of our 2 external consultants – Professor Dr. Albert Fiadjoe (Professor of constitutional and administrative law) of Ghana, and retired Chief Justice Willy Mutunga of Kenya. Both had assisted in steering constitutional reviews in their respective countries, with Professor Fiadjoe actually serving as Chairman of the Constitutional Review Commission of Ghana. We are grateful for their wisdom and depth of knowledge in constitutional development.

19. Your Excellency, I would not have been able to be here at this time making these remarks were it not for the brilliant, committed, hardworking and very cooperative and conscientious Commissioners you graciously gave me to work with. I had many months ago mentioned to the Hon. Attorney General privately that if I were ever to choose a team to work with, it would be this same team of Commissioners present here today. They have been sterling and outstanding in their work and demonstrated exceptional professionalism. They have been very supportive of me in leading the CRC. They have also been very patient with me, putting up with my numerous demands, sitting through long hours (sometimes beyond midnight) without complaining, and challenging me and each other, all for the purpose of achieving the best in the Draft Constitution. I thank you able Commissioners. I am indebted to, and truly very proud of, you. You did it for your beautiful country.

20. I thank Omar Ousman Jobe, the CRC Secretary, who has also been very patient with my endless demands, and for steering the administration of the CRC and jealously guarding the institution. I similarly thank Ndey Ngoneh Jeng, Researcher, who has been with us day and night and through thick and thin putting up with our demands without for once complaining. I equally thank the entire staff of the CRC who have been sterling in facilitating the work of the Commission.

21. Finally, Your Excellency, I end with someone who some may say I should have started with. But I deliberately left the best for last. And that is the Hon. Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubacarr Ba Tambadou. He has been my anchor from the day the CRC was established. He did everything he could to ensure that the CRC functioned efficiently and effectively. He entertained every single request I made to meet with him and discuss CRC issues. He remained committed to the CRC and facilitated us in every way within his power to facilitate. And the beauty is that, in all of these, he never ever said or asked anything that might even remotely be perceived as bordering on interference with the work of the CRC. I thank you Hon. Attorney General for being the true professional and for respecting the boundaries. Your humility and professionalism have endeared you to me and my team, and I know those positive attributes will take you far and so I pray.

22. In proceeding to conclude, I wish to place on record that the Government of The Gambia has invested heavily in the work of the CRC with, in some cases, the full support of regional and international partners. As at 29th March, 2020, the sum of D116, 659, 774.90 has been expended in the CRC. We recognise that the CRC Act keeps us in office until one month “after the date of enactment by the National Assembly of the Bill introducing the Constitution”. We are also required to attend the National Assembly, if needed, to clarify any matter and/or answer any questions the Hon. Members of the National Assembly may seek of us. We stand ready to fulfil our statutory obligations in that regard.

23. In conclusion, Your Excellency, today I present to you the Draft Constitution 2020 and the accompanying Report. We have also prepared, though not statutorily required, an Explanatory Memorandum to the Draft Constitution. The Explanatory Memorandum is essentially a summary of the various Chapters of the Draft Constitution and should provide a quick read thereof.

24. The Draft Constitution contains 319 sections divided into 20 Chapters and several Parts. In the assessment of the CRC, the Draft Constitution represents the generality of the wishes and aspirations of the Gambian people. As I already alluded to earlier, a constitutional review process entails balancing numerous ideas and interests in order to craft a Constitution that truly represents the interests of present and future generations. This is not a mean feat, and it is precisely the reason why it is accepted that no country can boast of having a perfect Constitution.

25. A well thought out Constitution that is not only people-centred, but also involves the opinions of the people through a process of participatory democracy, should generally be accepted with its imperfections. That is simply because no matter how hard we try, no matter what brains of wisdom we assemble, no matter how well we craft language and no matter how we resolve our good intentions, there will always be those who will feel aggrieved and wished the Constitution had addressed some matter of interest, or omitted some matter that is disagreeable or had simply been silent on some matter. Some would even have wished that the Constitution was shorter or longer or crafted in some other way. That is in the nature of every constitutional development and precisely why the discretion is vested in the constitutional review body, abiding by the guiding principles set for it, to use its best judgment to develop a Constitution that, in its considered opinion, best serves the current and future interests of the country.

26. In that context, Your Excellency, it is appropriate that I refer to the quotes from Philadelphia in 1787 from 2 prominent American Leaders when the Constitution of the United States of America was being considered for adoption.

27. First, from George Washington, who said:
“I wish the Constitution which is offered had been made more perfect, but I sincerely believe it is the best that could be obtained at this time. From a variety of concurring accounts it appears to me that the political concerns of this Country are, in a manner, suspended by a thread. That the Convention has been looked up to by the reflecting part of the community with a solicitude which is hardly to be conceived, and that, if nothing had been agreed on by that body, anarchy would soon have ensued.”

28. Second, from Benjamin Franklin, who said:
“I confess that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise… I agree to this Constitution with all its faults… For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected?

Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best…The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us in returning to our Constituents were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavour to gain partisans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects & great advantages resulting from our real or apparent unanimity. On the whole, Sir, I cannot help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.”

29. In the same vein, the CRC commends the Draft Constitution with all its imperfections and shortcomings that may be perceived of it and urge a unanimity of minds, based solely on what is in the best interests of The Gambia, particularly of generations yet unborn, that Gambians may embrace the Draft Constitution in order to move the country along the path of genuine and participatory democracy, respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms, and good governance that we may build a nation where collective interests, now and in the future, reign for the good of all.

30. The Draft Constitution represents the first in the constitutional history of The Gambia that is designed, broadly consulted on based on full participatory democracy, and crafted entirely by Gambians.

31. It is the hope of the CRC that the Gambian authorities that have the power and authority to take the Draft Constitution forward at its various stages receive the Draft Constitution in that respect and take full account of the conclusions and recommendations contained in the accompanying Report as representing the CRC’s rendition of the general views, aspirations and interests of Gambians as expounded by them during the 2 rounds of public consultations organised by the CRC. I also commend to Your Excellency and your Government the matters outlined in Annex 5 of the Report and the recommendations therein as representing the non-constitutional issues raised by our citizens with the hope of some resolution.

32. It is, therefore, my singular honour and privilege, on behalf of the Vice Chairperson and the other 9 Commissioners of the CRC to present and submit the Draft Constitution and the accompanying Report, in the name of the people of The Gambia and in their interest, to Your Excellency, Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia, in accordance with the terms of section 21 (1) of the Constitutional Review Commission Act, 2017.

33. Thank you.

—————-//————-
Momodou Posted - 26 Mar 2020 : 19:45:43
Press Release
For Immediate release
March 26, 2020

CRC TO SUBMIT FINAL DRAFT CONSTITUTION ON MONDAY
The Constitutional Review Commission is pleased to announce to Gambians that the much anticipated Draft Constitution is finalized and will be submitted to His Excellency, President Adama Barrow at State House on Monday 30th March, 2020.
This follows a series of consultations with Gambians at home and abroad as to how they wish to be governed in the new Draft Constitution. It could be recalled that, the CRC made a promise to Gambians at a press conference held on Monday 27th January, 2020 that it will submit the final Draft Constitution to the President not later than March, 2020.
It is gratifying to note that a lot of effort was invested by Gambians from all walks of life to ensure that the Commission produces a Constitution that will stand the test of time and become a model for not only the African continent but the World at large.
The CRC will also publish, on Tuesday 31st March, 2020, the final Draft Constitution and the accompanying Report on its website (www.crc220.org) and via its social media platforms (Twitter: @crcgambia, Linkedin: crc@gambia and Facebook: Constitutional Review Commission, The Gambia) to give Gambians the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the contents of this national document of great importance.

For further Information, Please Contact CRC Communication Department
Mr. Sainey MK Marenah
Head of Media and Communications
Constitutional Review Commission
Futurelec Building, Kotu
+2203420440
Email:S.marenah@crc220.org
toubab1020 Posted - 21 Feb 2020 : 20:24:38
“The draft is on the way to meeting highest international standards, such as that of the Commonwealth and a number of advanced human rights and good governance bodies,” Sir Jeffrey told the press after an audience with President Barrow."


There appears to be little doubt that there is a very great deal of work and expertise being mobilised to ensure that when completed the result will be the best that it can be.
Momodou Posted - 21 Feb 2020 : 18:40:56
Gambia’s draft Constitution of international standard – QC

State House, Banjul, February 21, 2020 –Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, has described Gambia’s draft Constitution as a document that is on the way to meeting highest international standards.

The centre, as an independent research institute in the UK, established by the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. It is devoted to the study and promotion of the rule of law worldwide.

Its Founder and Director, Sir Jeffrey Jowel, who is a Queen’s Counsel, led a delegation to the State House to meet with President Adama Barrow on Friday. They are in Banjul on the invitation of the government to help the country produce its new constitution and offer technical advice and support on how to make it one of the best in Africa.

“The draft is on the way to meeting highest international standards, such as that of the Commonwealth and a number of advanced human rights and good governance bodies,” Sir Jeffrey told the press after an audience with President Barrow.

Sir Jowel said he is impressed with the Gambia’s approach to constitutional building process, that involved wide consultations and popular participation process by the citizenry. He also said it was an impressive initiative to give such an opportunity for ordinary people to contribute to this process.

Such a process can only seek to counteract bad governance, said the Counsel, who was led to the State House by the British High Commissioner.

President Barrow on his part, thanked the Bingham Centre for agreeing to offer support to his government’s efforts in building solid foundation for a Third Republic in The Gambia.

He said building strong institutions is cardinal to his government’s vision and the UK had been supportive in this process in several ways.

The delegation comprised acting deputy Director of Bingham Centre, Jan Van Zyl Smit and Alex Goodman.

High Commissioner Sharon Wardle said the Centre is already talking to different stakeholders with vested interests in the Constitutional review process.
Momodou Posted - 27 Dec 2019 : 19:41:32
Press Release
For Immediate Release
27th December

CLARIFICATIONS CONCERNING CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF
THE CRC DRAFT CONSTITUTION

Following the publication by the CRC of the Draft Constitution, a large number of the Gambian population (including other stakeholders) have been actively engaged in various discussions concerning its provisions. The CRC welcomes the level of interest and debate on the provisions of the Draft Constitution and the CRC wishes to assure all persons concerned that the views they’ve expressed to the CRC, either through its public consultation process or through written submissions, will be duly considered in finalizing the Draft Constitution. The Draft Constitution, at this stage, has been published merely to solicit public opinion regarding its provisions. In that context, the CRC appreciates all the constructive criticisms and the suggestions made to help improve and finalise the Draft Constitution.

However, the CRC has discovered, through its public engagement process during the public consultations, that there are persons that have been spreading misinformation regarding certain provisions of the Draft Constitution. This might have been through inadvertence or a lack of understanding and appreciation of the true picture of the provisions concerned. It is therefore considered important that the CRC revisits the Gambian communities to better explain the provisions concerned so that citizens are aware of the true picture and to disabuse their minds of the misinformation that is being spread.

Citizens of The Gambia should take note that the assignment given to the CRC to review the current 1997 Constitution to write a new one is designed purely for the interest and greater good of The Gambia. There is no hidden agenda in the execution of this assignment and the CRC is guided essentially by the provisions of the CRC Act of 2017. In that regard, the CRC has sought and considered opinions expressed by citizens and other stakeholders during the initial public consultation phase using different platforms to afford every Gambian the opportunity to contribute to the Constitution-building process.

Accordingly, in preparing the Draft Constitution, the CRC factored in opinions expressed by citizens and other stakeholders as considered appropriate. In addition, the CRC has considered the provisions of the current 1997 Constitution and has retained those provisions it considered legitimate and which aligned with overwhelming public opinion, while modifying some. Furthermore, the CRC has considered regional and international treaties to which The Gambia is a party in order to establish The Gambia’s legal obligations which require being enshrined in the Draft Constitution and those which may be dealt with by other means (such as statute and policy). The CRC has also looked carefully at matters that constitute international best practice to warrant inclusion in the Draft Constitution. Finally and pursuant to the CRC Act of 2017, the CRC has taken on board during the preparation of the Draft Constitution, the national values and ethos of The Gambia.

The CRC Constitution-building process has been open and transparent; nothing was carried out in the dark. It has thus far kept citizens abreast of developments concerning the preparation of the Draft Constitution, through its partners in the media who have performed creditably well in informing the Gambian communities about the work of the CRC.

Areas to Note

The CRC would like the Gambian community to note the following matters:

1. The development of a new Constitution for The Gambia is a national effort and citizens should use their individual and collective endeavours to help with that development process;
2. The views and opinions canvassed with the CRC will be carefully considered and embraced as considered necessary;
3. It should be noted that it is not all opinions that can necessarily be included in the Draft Constitution; the ultimate aim of the Draft Constitution is to represent what is in the best interest of The Gambia – for peace, national unity, national cohesion and national development for today’s generation and future generations;

Areas of Clarification

On the specific areas of clarification on the Draft Constitution, the public is advised to note the following:

(a) Section 1 (1) on the Republic: fierce debate is raging on whether or not the word “secular” should be included in the Draft Constitution. The CRC welcomes the opinions being canvassed in this regard, but cautions against the religious undertones and sometimes misleading statements designed to engender fear. All communities, especially leaders of all faiths, should exercise restraint and tolerance and respect other people’s views without acrimony or vilification;

(b) Section 52 on the right to marry: this section does not in any way establish or advocate for marital relationships based on conduct that is considered to be unnatural between a man and a woman; the section does not make provision for homosexuality or other form of sexuality considered not to be in accordance with the values and ethos of Gambian society. It should also be noted that the Criminal Code criminalises homosexuality. Nonetheless, this section will be considered for any possible ambiguity to ensure better clarity;

(c) Section 209 (3) on the appointment of Alkalos: this section empowers the Minister who is assigned responsibility for Local Government matters to appoint an Alkalo in accordance with established traditional lines of inheritance. Considering that traditional lines of inheritance may differ from village to village with respect to the appointment of an Alkalo, it is obvious that a specific public functionary must be given the power to effect the appointment of an Alkalo. However, the Minister, in making any appointment of an Alkalo, must follow the tradition of the village concerned for succession to the office of Alkalo. The Minister cannot simply appoint whoever the Minister wants; the Minister is constrained by the relevant tradition that obtains in the village concerned. It is therefore inaccurate for any person to state that the Draft Constitution gives the Minister the power to select and appoint any person the Minister wants as an Alkalo. Any appointment has to be based on the traditional lines of inheritance: if, for example, the tradition is that a son or brother succeeds an Alkalo automatically, then that is the tradition that must be followed; if the tradition is that village elders or yard owners meet to decide or confirm who should be appointed as an Alkalo, then that is the tradition that must be followed; if there is another method of succession to the office of Alkalo, then it is that other method that must be followed. If there is a method to resolve within a family who should succeed as an Alkalo, then that method must be followed to select and appoint a new Alkalo. If a person succeeds or is selected to succeed in the office of Alkalo in accordance with any particular method of succession, the Minister is bound by that method and must, therefore, make the appointment in full compliance with that method.

Conclusion

Citizens are cautioned against falling prey to misinformation. The CRC implores Gambians to remain steadfast and focused, and united in purpose, in building a new Constitution that well serves the current generations of citizens and those yet unborn.

Issued by The CRC Communications Department
For Further Information Contact:
Mr. Sainey MK Marenah
Head of Communications
Phone: +2203420440/2484149
Email: S.marenah@crc220.org
Website: www.crc220.org
Facebook: Constitutional Review Commission, The Gambia
Twitter: @CRCGambia

Dated 27th December, 2019
Momodou Posted - 24 Dec 2019 : 09:09:11
People of African Descent Demand Automatic Citizenship

Foroyaa: December 20, 2019

By Nelson Manneh

https://foroyaa.gm/people-of-african-descent-demand-automatic-citizenship/

Descendants of Africans, whose ancestors were forcefully captured and taken away from the continent, have demanded that the new Constitution should make provision for them to acquire citizenship in the country. This was disclosed by some of these descendants in a press conference held on Sunday, December 15th, 2019.

The descendants of these captives said their grandparents were taken and enslaved by Europeans 400 years ago; that they want to return to Africa because it is here they belong.
Madam Juliet said it was not their choice as descendants of these captives to stay in Europe or America; that their grandparents were forcefully taken against their will and sold during the slave trade; that their masters have never recognized them as being part of them.

“This is why we want to come to Africa. It is here that we belong,” she said; that by looking at their skins, one knows that they belong to Africa.

‘‘My parents told me that my great grandparents are from The Gambia and I want to come back home,” she said.

Juliet said they are not pleased with the way the issue of citizenship has been explained in the new draft Constitution.

“We have engaged Government and other stakeholders by demanding for automatic citizenship in the Country, but we are yet to be recognized,” she said.

Juliet said in Europe, they called them aliens meaning that they come from nowhere. She called on the Government and the CRC to give them automatic citizenship and accommodate them in the country.

“We are Africans. We want to come home and settle with our families,” she said.
Thomas Moses said the following: “Some of us were told that our great grandparents came from the Gambia and we decided to come back home, but the environment does not welcome us.”

Mr. Moses said it is very sad that they are confronted with racism in Europe and now they want to come back home, but yet they are not welcomed.

“We have written a petition to the CRC demanding for what belongs to us. We are from the Gambia and we want to come back, invest and stay permanently,” he said.

It is a historical fact that Europeans came to Africa and took away Africans and forced them to work on their plantations in America and the West Indies. After the abolition of the slave trade, some of the captives were repatriated while several stayed in those countries.
Momodou Posted - 18 Dec 2019 : 21:38:26
Press Release
For Immediate Release
Date: 18th December, 2019

CRC Extends Deadline for Submission of Comments on Draft Constitution

The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) wishes to thank all those persons who have demonstrated keen interest in the Draft Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia by either attending and participating in the CRC’s direct face-to-face public consultations around the country or submitting written contributions. The CRC is equally grateful to those persons who have arranged and/or participated in other forms of public discussion to create awareness regarding the provisions of the Draft Constitution. The CRC also recognises the expressions of support for the Draft Constitution from the general public. In addition, the CRC is enormously grateful to the media houses and their practitioners for keeping the spirit of the Media-CRC partnership active and true to form.

The CRC assures the general public that the opinions received will be properly reviewed and factored, as appropriate, in finalising the Draft Constitution.

Furthermore, the CRC wishes to announce that due to the numerous requests it has received to extend the period of public consultation on the Draft Constitution, it has extended the public consultation period to Tuesday, 31st December, 2019. Persons wishing to make written contributions to the CRC are encouraged to do so no later than 2:00 pm on the stated deadline. No further written contributions will be received beyond the stated deadline.

Issued by the CRC Communications Department
For more information, Contact:
Mr. Sainey MK Marenah
Head of Communications
Email: S.marenah@crc220.org

Tel: +2203420440/
4460475
Momodou Posted - 11 Dec 2019 : 11:49:37
Christian Council Gives Position Paper On New Draft Constitution
December 11, 2019

By Louise Jobe


https://foroyaa.gm/christian-council-gives-position-paper-on-new-draft-constitution/

The Gambian Christian Council (GCC), yesterday presented a position paper on the draft Constitution.

The position paper indicated that “Christianity and Islam have lived side by side in mutual coexistence until this present day. It is an established national pride in the Gambia that across the country, families often have members of the two faiths living together and embracing each other’s faiths based on personal conviction.

“Moreover, individuals marry their partners from the opposite faiths without any conflicts whatsoever within their families or communities. This has been the legacy of religious tolerance, coexistence and relationship in the Smiling Coast of The Gambia, for generations.”

Central in the position paper is the secularity of the country.

The paper acknowledges the fact that Section 47 of the draft Constitution maintains freedom of conscience which inter-alia includes freedom of religion similar to Section 25 of the current 1997 Constitution;

It also acknowledges the fact that Section 151(2) (b) of the draft Constitution forbids the National Assembly from establishing any religion as a state religion similar to the current Section 100(2) (b) of the 1997 Constitution. It further acknowledges that both sections in the draft are entrenched, meaning that they cannot be amended without subjecting them to a referendum. Going by these two provisions, it appears that it will be very difficult to pass a law establishing any religion as a state religion in The Gambia;

The paper further argues that these two provisions are similar and the same as in the current 1997 Constitution.

It however submitted that, “despite similar provisions guaranteeing religious freedoms in the current constitution and with similar entrench clauses, the Gambia was in 2015 declared an Islamic Republic by the former President to the dismay and detriment of Christians and non-Muslims. Shortly thereafter, non-Muslim females working in the civil service were forced to wear veils in accordance with the dictates of Sharia Law. During that trying period for Christians, the National Assembly did not challenge such illegal and unconstitutional move and to the contrary, the former President’s move was supported by the Supreme Islamic Council and the Banjul Muslim Elders”

The paper notes that GCC has the firm belief and conviction that the state should be officially neutral in matters of religion without giving any preferential treatment to any one religion or religious groups and consequently, should treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion i.e. non-discrimination which goes beyond establishing any religion as a state religion.

“The GCC therefore submits that Section 151(2) is not sufficient and therefore proposes that
Section 151(2) be expanded to read as follows:

“The National Assembly shall not pass a Bill to establish any religion as a state religion or prohibit the free exercise of religion.” We believe that this addresses the sometimes twisted definition which some have attributed to the word secular to mean; that is it prohibits the free practice of religion.”

Regarding preferential treatment based on religion, the paper argued that, “Guaranteeing freedom to practice one’s religion, and not establishing a religion as a state religion does not necessarily mean that the state (if not explicitly stated in its secular nature), will not give preferential treatment to one religion over the other as the GCC has witnessed over the years.

“The last 7 years has been a testing period for Gambian Christians ranging from encroaching on their land demarcated as cemetery for burials, wearing of veils in Christian run Schools, declaring the Gambia an Islamic State, disparaging remarks about Christianity from the former head of state, the threats to close down the Christian Cemetery in Banjul and the invitation of the Islamic Scholar Dr. Zakir Naik who publicly made critical remarks about Christianity and many more.”

For these and other reasons, the GCC proposes that the word “Secular” be added to the preamble of the draft and for Section 1 to read: “The Gambia is a sovereign secular State”. The GCC further proposes that for the avoidance of doubt and to clear the air of misunderstanding, “Secular” can be defined in the Interpretation section of the Constitution;

The paper cited Senegal as a country which inserted ‘secular’ in its constitution.
“Our neighbour SENEGAL sharing the same and similar culture, language, religious demographic etc. clearly states that Senegal is a ‘Secular’ state and yet it has not aroused any negative debate. I repeat the provision of the Senegalese Constitution below:

Article 1
‘‘The Republic of Senegal shall be SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC and SOCIAL. It shall ensure equality before the Law for all citizens, without distinction as to origin, race, sex or religion. It shall respect all faiths. The official language of the Republic of Senegal shall be French. The national languages shall be Diola, Malinke, Poular, Serer, Soninke and Wolof and any other national language which has been codified;

Finally, the GCC urges the CRC to take into consideration Section 6(2) (VI) of the Constitutional Review Commission Act 2017 which directs the CRC when carrying out its functions to ensure that:

“The Gambia’s continued existence as a ‘Secular’ State in which all faiths are treated equally and encouraged to foster national cohesion and unity.”

Recommendations by the GCC
a) That “Secular” be inserted in the preamble of the draft constitution and that Section 1should also include the word “Secular” after the word “Sovereign” akin to Article 1 of the Senegalese Constitution aforementioned;
b) That all religions be respected and treated equally;
c) That Sharia be only applicable to Muslims and where a Christian is affected in matters of inheritance, marriage, divorce and adoption, Civil law be applicable;
d) That the proposed Sharia High Court be removed, and the Cadi Courts be maintained;
e) That public holidays be specified to include Christmas, Boxing day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday and all other holiday observed by the Muslims;
f) That no state funds be used to enhance any particular religion in government institutions;
g) That the portfolio of the Ministry of Religious Affairs be scrapped and instead an inter faith committee be created to advise the President on religious affairs;
h) That Section 44 (2) (c) relating the “uttering of abusive or threatening speech or writing that causes feelings of ill-will, disaffection or hostility “ be expunged;
i) That Section 44 (d) (i) should include “ethnic or religious incitement”;
j) That the full age of woman relating to the right to marry under section 52 (1) be 18 years and clearly defined in the interpretation clause;
k) That Section 66 under the heading Gender balance and fair representation of marginalized groups” to include women, person with disabilities, youth and minority groups;
l) That Section 67 (4) be expunged;
m) That Section 82 (g) to include women ie relating percentage in the National Assembly;
n) That Section 92 (1) (c) to be replaced with a court of competent jurisdiction and not by a Commission of Enquiry;
o) That the qualifications provided under Section 109 for the President be applicable to the Vice-President, the Chief Justice and the Speaker of the National assembly;
p) That Section 174 (b) to reflect not less than four, and not more than twelve other judges
only i.e. only should be inserted; and
q) Section 258 (5) (b) on land holding by non-citizens be expunged because there are state institutions that regulate land in The Gambia and that let all persons living in The Gambia be qualified to own..
Momodou Posted - 27 Nov 2019 : 13:59:15
CRC SECOND PHASE OF PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS SCHEDULE

MEETING DATES VENUES TIME

Saturday 30/11/2019


Banjul Arch 22
11:00 a.m

Monday 02/12/2019

Essau Senior Secondary School, North Bank Region (NBR)
11:00 a.m

Tuesday 03/12/2019

Kerewan, NBR
11:00 a.m

Wednesday 04/12/2019

Kaur, Central River Region, North

11:00 a.m


Thursday 05/12/2019

Diabugu, Upper River Region ( URR)

11:00 a.m

Saturday 07/12/2019

Basse, URR


11:00 a.m

Sunday 08/12/2019

Janjanbureh, CRR
11:00 a.m

Monday 9/12/2019

Jareng, CRR, South


11:00 a.m

Tuesday 10/12/2019

Soma, Lower River Region (LRR)
11:00 a.m

Wednesday 11/12/2019

Kwinella, LRR
11:00 a.m

Thursday 12/12/2019

Bwiam, West Coast Region(WCR)
11:00 a.m

Saturday 14/12/2019

Brikama, WCR
11:00 a.m

Monday 16/12/2019

KMC

11:00 a.m
Momodou Posted - 27 Nov 2019 : 12:36:57
Press Release
For Immediate Release

Date: 27th November, 2019


CRC Calls for Submission of Comments on the Draft Constitution

The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) wishes to inform the public that those who wish to make comments and submissions on the recently published Draft Constitution can do so by submitting written comments to our Secretariat at the Futurelec Builing, Kotu or send them through email: crcgambia@gmail.com or info@crc220.org. Alternatively, members of the public can also send their comments to our Facebook (Constitutional Review Commission, The Gambia) and Twitter (@CRCGambia.
The deadline for submission of contributions is on the 15th December, 2019.
In a similar development, the Commission will begin a nationwide tour in Banjul on Saturday, 30th November, 2019. The week-long exercise is aimed at presenting the draft Constitution to the Gambian people and soliciting their comments and contributions on the Constitutional provisions.

Issued by the CRC Communications Department
For more information, Contact:
Mr. Sainey MK Marenah
Head of Communications
+220248419
4460475
Email: S.marenah@crc220.org

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