By Justice Cherno Jallow
‘Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media.
You are welcome to yet another edition of the Constitutional Review Commission’s period press conference.
Since inception, the CRC has established a cordial relationship with the media and media engagements like this one, is an indication of how much preference the commission attaches to this partnership.
The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) is established by an Act of the National Assembly in June, 2018. The Commission’s main functions are to review and analyze the current Constitution, draft a new Constitution for the Republic of The Gambia and prepare a report in relation to the new Constitution. The Commission’s report will outline the processes engaged in reviewing and drafting the new Constitution and provide the rationale for the provisions contained in the new Constitution.
In collaboration with International IDEA, the CRC has developed an online survey tool (a questionnaire) aimed at soliciting the views of Gambians both in the country and in the Diaspora on key constitutional law issues. The platform is at an advanced stage of development and when completed it will be linked to the CRC website. That notwithstanding, the statisticians, researchers with support from other CRC staff have been conducting surveys within and outside communities targeted for the public consultations, based on identified enumeration areas (EAs). The relevant sample size for the entire country has been pegged at 9,263 respondents. The CRC staff and hired freelance surveyors conducted a month-long survey which ended this week.
Public Participation Platform (PPP)
The Constitutional Review Commission launched an online software call the Public Participation Platform (PPP). The PPP is developed by the International Institute For Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and is it aimed at supporting survey development, data management, data analysis, and temporary data storage as part of the CRC’s mandated public consultation activities.
In a similar development, the CRC has signed a memorandum of understanding with International IDEA. The MOU will address, among other things, a common aim in implementing joint support initiatives geared towards developing, launching and maintaining a data organization and analysis system known as the Public Participation Platform (PPP).
The CRC Act empowers the commission under section 11 to establish technical committees, with each technical committee being chaired by a Commissioner, to facilitate and assist with the work of the CRC. In line with that provision, five (5) technical Committees have been established, three (3) of which have already been inaugurated and their members have subscribed to an oath of confidentiality before the Chairperson of the CRC in accordance with the terms of the Act. The established technical committees are: Public Finance Management, chaired by Commissioner Fatoumata Jallow and assisted by Commissioner Salimatta Touray; Land, Environment and Natural Resources, chaired by Commissioner Lamin Camara and assisted by Commissioner Dr. Melville George; Media, Public Education and Communication, chaired by Commissioner Amie Joof-Cole and assisted by Commissioner Yankuba Dibba. The remaining two technical committees, namely: Committee of Experts on Constitutional Law, chaired by Hawa Kuru Ceesay-Sabally (Vice-Chairperson of the CRC) and Constitution Drafting and Report Writing Technical Committee, chaired by Commissioner Janet Sallah-Njie, will be launched in due course.
Gambians with appropriate educational qualifications and experience have been appointed to serve on the Technical Committees. The Public Finance Management Technical Committee has as its members the following prominent Gambians: Alhaji T.S. Alieu Njie; Alpha Amadou Barry; Mamour Jagne; Anthony Ademola Taylor and Momodou Ceesay.
Similarly, the following people have been appointed to serve on the Technical Committee on Media, Public Education and Communication: Sering Fye; Mamanding Kuyateh; Emil Touray; Omar Wally and Demba Kandeh. The Land, Environment and Natural Resources Technical Committee comprises the following experts: Momodou Badou Sarr; Ndey Sireng Jobarteh Bakurin; Dr. Raymond Jatta; Lamin Comma and Gallo Saidy.
The role of the technical committees is to assist the Commission to identify constitutional related issues from an experts’ perspective and to make recommendations on what specific matters to capture in the new Constitution and how key oversight institutions can be strengthened to promote good governance in The Gambia. In that context, the CRC will refer specific matters to the technical committees to review, research and provide recommendations on. This process, in addition to the public consultations (oral and written), is designed to ensure that the CRC has the benefit of the full range of opinion and expertise in making objective assessments on matters that should be incorporated into the new Constitution. The CRC will ultimately determine the drafting instructions to be relied upon by the Constitution Drafting and Report Writing Technical Committee in drafting the new Constitution and the accompanying report on behalf of the CRC.
The inaugurated technical committees will be in place for a period of three (3) months, with the possibility of an extension where, in any particular case, the CRC considers that necessary.
As part of its mandate to seek the views of Gambians, the CRC will begin its external consultation in Africa and the Middle East.
On the 28th April, 2019, there will be a meeting on Dakar, Senegal, on the 1st May, 2019, there will a meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and on the 2nd May, 2019, there will be a meeting in Nouakchott, Mauritania.
In Europe: the Constitutional Review Commission will also engage Gambians in the United Kingdom (London), Germany (Berlin), Sweden (Stockholm), France (Paris) and Spain (Barcelona), Whilst in the U.S major cities including New York City, Washington DC, Atlanta, Seattle, Minneapolis and Charlotte will be visited to solicit the opinions of Gambians.
More details on the dates and specific venues of the meetings in Europe and America will be announced when they are readily available.
The consultative process would incorporate the views and aspirations of Gambians living in the Diaspora on the drafting of the new Gambian constitution and it will cover the following countries in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and United States of America.
As part of its mandate, the CRC had embarked on a series of in-country public consultations, which entailed direct interface with Gambian communities around the country to discuss issues related to constitutional reform and consideration of public opinion on matters that Gambians wish to contribute towards the building of a new Constitution.
The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) would want to inform the public that it will forever remain committed to its ideals of participation, inclusiveness, transparency and ownership.
The CRC Communications Department will keep the public abreast with the proceedings of the external consultations and be assured that the CRC is in tandem with its timeline to deliver the draft constitution as stipulated by the CRC Act.