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|T O P I C R E V I E W
||Posted - 15 Nov 2019 : 13:26:50
The Draft Constitution is here:
|15 L A T E S T R E P L I E S (Newest First)
||Posted - 17 Sep 2020 : 21:13:33
GPU slams parliament for unilateral decision
Sep 17, 2020
By: Momodou Jawo
Mustapha Mbye, head of Ethics Committee of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) has made it clear that the decision from the parliament on Monday to choose only three media houses to cover the assembly sittings and bar others was “unilateral”, arguing that parliament should not take any decisions that divide people.
“The GPU was not consulted about the parliament decision to bar some journalists from covering the sitting. In fact, the way other media houses were allowed especially the private media houses is unacceptable, because it creates discrimination and creates division among journalists.”
Mr. Mbye was speaking yesterday during a press conference at the GPU. He said: “Parliament should not take any decision that divides any member of the society including us journalists. We are not happy about the decision because it divides us and we hope that the parliament rescinds their decision.”
Dozens of Gambian journalists were on Monday barred from entry into the National Assembly as parliamentarians began debating the draft new constitution that was tabled for the first reading by the Minister of Justice. Security personnel at the entrance of the National Assembly allowed only GRTS, QTV and Eye Africa.
The parliament, Mr. Mbye said, is a supreme legislative arm of the government that should prohibit discrimination. “Our members are trained and are taking precautions from getting infected from the disease. We will appreciate the parliament to help our members from getting covid-19 but not in this way.”
He added: “There are a lot of things that the parliament can do for journalists in this country and we all know that. There are laws that protect us from doing what we are supposed to do; hence we want the parliament to work on that first. We are calling on the parliament to work on laws that will enhance our work as journalists rather than protecting us from covid-19.”
In any civilised democracy, he went on, the press and the legislature work together to strengthen democracy. “So, if parliament is doing this to the press, then it means it’s a lost opportunity for the press and parliament to come together so that we ensure sanity prevails in the governance structure of this country.”
Sheriff Bojang Jnr, the president of the Union said GPU was never consulted either directly or indirectly over the parliamentary decision to bar some journalists from entering parliament.
“I believe if the parliament is to come with such a decision, there should have been some consultations and meetings or even inform some stakeholders, media chiefs and the GPU about the development prior to Monday sitting. We felt this was an obligation to the parliament or anybody who wanted to take such a decision to inform people and negotiate.”
‘The parliament director of communications clearly told me that the decision of the parliament was purely and 100% on health ground due to the pandemic. He told me that even the sitting arrangement of parliamentarians in the flow has been changed to give room to brotherly social distancing because they don’t want to congest the flow.’
Sheriff Bojang added: “Even in this covid-19, we have seen countries, Italy, which is among the epicentres of the disease and in hospitals where people were dying week in and week out but journalists were allowed in because it was not the role of the health authorities to say journalists can’t be allowed because we are protecting them. In this case, it’s not the role of the National Assembly to protect journalists from getting infected.”
The speaker of the house, he continued, confirmed fully that this is in no way a policy or a decision to stop the press, adding that GPU will not call for a boycott but will stand in solidarity with media houses or journalists that want to boycott the parliament.
||Posted - 15 Sep 2020 : 20:51:50
UPDATE: GPU will host a press conference at the Secretariat tomorrow, September 16th 2020 at 10am. The Executive shall update the media and Gambians on the Union's position regarding National Assembly's decision on journalists covering proceedings.
In observance of the Covid19 regulations, the event would be held outdoors. Physical distancing and other safety precautions would be observed.
The program office would also provide masks and hand sanitizers.
Source: Gambia Press Union (GPU)
||Posted - 15 Sep 2020 : 14:07:45
Yesterday all media houses were denied access to proceedings inside the National Assembly apart from state owned GRTS, QTV and Eye Africa TV. Today the following was released:
The Office of the Clerk wishes to inform journalists and media organizations that the Third Ordinary Session of the National Assembly is being convened from the 14th-24th September 2020. The Session is convened at a time that The Gambia is at its peak in the Covid 19 pandemic.
Aware of the severity of the Covid 19 situation in the country and considering the need to convene this Session in a safe and conducive manner, protecting the health and wellbeing of both Hon. Members staff and journalist who cover National Assembly proceedings is paramount.
The Office of the Clerk after due consultations and mindful of the need to convene a safe Session and the citizens right to information, adopted a media strategy that limits the participation of journalists in the Chamber but provides real time information on diverse platforms to enable journalists and other information media to follow the proceedings of this Session and disseminate to their respective audiences.
In this regard, Journalists and media outlets who wish to cover the proceedings of the Assembly are kindly advised to take feeds from the National Assembly’s social media platforms (Facebook page and YouTube channel). Permission is also granted to all journalists and media organizations to use and brand the raw footage streamed on the National Assembly’s media platforms to suit their respective media standards.
Furthermore, the Office of the Clerk has also designated the Auditorium as a Press Center from where journalists who wish to be within the precincts of the Assembly can monitor the proceedings of the Session and file their news reports. Journalists will also be able to conduct safe interviews with Hon. Members at the Press Center.
The strategy is not implemented with a discriminatory intent; it is designed to protect Hon. Members, staff and the journalists themselves from possible exposure to contact.
The Fifth Legislature has never at any given time limited access of anybody more so journalists from attending Sessions and Committee proceedings. However, we are in extra ordinary times and care and caution is what should dictate our actions.
We hope the media and all those concern understand our collective situation as these are temporary measures initiated due to the Covid 19 situation of the Country.
The Office of the Clerk solicits the usual cooperation and understanding of the media fraternity.
Source: The Gambia National Assembly FB, 15-09-2020
||Posted - 15 Sep 2020 : 13:30:49
For Immediate Release
September 15, 2020
CRC Distributes A Content of Translated 20 Chapters of Draft Constitution Nation-wide
The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) has successfully completed a nation-wide distribution of audio-visual format of the Draft Constitution to regional authorities and community radios. The four-day exercise began from Monday 31st August to Thursday 3rd September, 2020.
The purpose of the translation of the Draft Constitution is a fulfillment of the promise the CRC made to Gambians during the public consultations to have the Draft Constitution translated into the local languages to enhance citizens’ understanding and awareness of the content of the Draft Constitution.
Delivering on this promise, the Commission has, of recent, translated the content of 20 Chapters of the Draft Constitution into the following languages: Mandinka, Fula, Wollof, Jola, Manjago, Serere, Sarahule, Aku and Gambian Sign Language for the hard-of-hearing. There is also a Braille and a Gambian Sign Language versions of the Draft Constitution for the visually impaired and the hard-of-hearing.
The content of the translated chapters of the Draft Constitution in audio-visual format contained in flash drives was distributed to the general populace through their regional authorities and information dissemination outlets such as Governors’ Offices, Chiefs, Area Councils and Community Radios.
The CRC therefore encourages the public to access and listen to these translated versions of the Draft Constitution to deepen their understanding of its contents. The Draft Constitution, in all manner and shape, is people-centered and this is made possible by the overwhelming participation and involvement of Gambians from all walks of life during the consultation process.
Furthermore, the Commission has also distributed copies of the Draft Constitution to Senior Secondary Schools across the country. As integral stakeholders in developing the Draft Constitution, the Senior Secondary Schools have been provided with copies of the Draft Constitution to enable them to learn and strengthen their understanding on the constitutional matters contained in, and to enhance their ownership of, the document.
Gambians hailed the CRC for not only fulfilling its promise, but also providing the Draft Constitution in their mother-tongue. Recipients of the documents commended the CRC for a job well done, saying it will have a far-reaching impact on the people in terms of dispelling misinformation and misrepresentation of facts about the contents of the Draft Constitution.
The CRC enjoins the Gambian public to access these translated audio recordings of the Draft Constitution in eight languages to reinforce their understanding of its provisions. It is only through this way that we can collectively protect and inform on the Draft Constitution in its pristine form.
Equally, people can access these translated recordings of of the Draft Constitution in local languages at the CRC Website: www.crc220.org.
Issued by the CRC Media and Communications Department
For more info
Mr. Sainey MK Marenah
Head of Media and Communications
||Posted - 14 Sep 2020 : 13:57:58
#CRC220 Draft Constitution Finally at The National Assembly!
The National Assembly of the Gambia earlier today, September 9, 2020 conducted the first reading of the Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia Bill 2020.
The second reading of the Bill is expected to be conducted tomorrow September 10, 2020.
Honorable Attorney General and the Minister of Justice Dawda A. Jallow was in attendance and he presented a copy to the National Assembly.
The CRC Draft Constitution is one of the most important document ready to be tabled for discussion at the parliament for consideration.
If the document is approved by the parliament will subsequently go through a referendum for a endorsement from Gambians. And this will eventually usher in the Third Republican Constitution for the Republic of the Gambia.
||Posted - 14 Sep 2020 : 12:37:51
First reading of the #2020Constitution is today at #NationalAssembly, the second tomorrow, leaving #66weeks to the next presidential elections with little wiggle room in the electoral calendar for referendum, registration, etc etc
||Posted - 29 May 2020 : 14:23:50
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.
||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.
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.
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
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
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
||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.
||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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
||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.
||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
Secretary to Cabinet
Madam Vice Chairperson of the CRC
Other fellow CRC Commissioners
Researcher and our able scribe, Ndey Ngoneh Jeng
Ladies and Gentlemen
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.
||Posted - 26 Mar 2020 : 19:45:43
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
||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.
||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.
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