By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The Gambia’s National Assembly is scheduled to announce its first Extra-Ordinary Session of the 2023 Legislative Year by Monday 30th October 2023 to consider at least Five Bills. National Assembly members are currently on a Parliamentary retreat reviewing these Bills together with the Ministry of Justice.
On Twitter, now known as X the Ministry of Justice’s official X page posted that the Bills are “geared towards ensuring effective implementation of the transitional justice process & TRRC recommendations”. Another post added that “the session is to ensure that NAMs are familiar with these bills in order to avoid delay during the extraordinary session of the National Assembly”.
After the latest information received from a Parliamentarian today, the Gambia Parliamentary Newsletter can confirm that an announcement was made during the second day of the Parliamentary Retreat highlighting that an Emergency Session will take place next week. The announcement noted that the Bills will be tabled on Wednesday and Thursday 1st and 2nd November 2023 by the Minister of Justice via a Certificate of Urgency.
The Ministry of Justice elucidated the rationale behind their Parliamentary Retreat was to “look into the following bills, which are to be tabled before the National Assembly. Victims Reparations Bill, The Former Presidents Bill, Ban from Public Office (TRRC) Bill, Vetting Bill and the Judicial Officers Remuneration Bill”.
This review session will look into the following Bills, which are to be tabled before the National Assembly.
— Ministry of Justice (@Gambia_MOJ) October 27, 2023
However, among the Bills issued to Parliamentarians is the Commission of Inquiry (Amendment) Bill which if also tabled by the Minister of Justice will bring the total number up to six. It’s worth noting that the Judicial Officers Remuneration Bill was rejected by National Assembly members in the Third Ordinary Session of the 2023 Legislative Year just last month September. It will be interesting to observe if the Parliamentary Retreat with the Ministry of Justice will translate into enough votes to pass it this time around.
It’s anticipated that a formal announcement will be made on Monday 30th October 2023 about the Extra-Ordinary Session. Our medium has been following this development from the Attorney General’s Office for some months now who informed our reporter earlier in the year that some Bills will be tabled in Parliament via a Certificate of Urgency.
Below are the descriptions of the Bills copied from the actual Bills themselves.
- Ban from Public Office (TRRC) Bill: “This Bill seeks to make substantive provisions for the Banning of Public officials recommended by the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission and to create a schedule where banned public officials would be listed for gazetting”.
- Commission of Inquiry (Amendment) Bill: “This Bill seeks to amend the Commission of Inquiry Law, to add a new provision to define the meanings of Minister and Whitepaper under this Act, to give power to the President to issue amnesty to persons banned from holding public office and to provide a criterion for persons entitled to apply for amnesty”.
- Former President’s Office Bill: “This Bill seeks to repeal and replace the Former Presidents (Office, Allowances and Other Benefits) Act [Act No.16 of 2006]. Until now, the President who is the chief executive of the state upon ceasing to hold office enters retirement without any formal pension from the state. This Bill proposes an annual pension and office expenses for former Presidents to maintain the dignity of the Office of the President”.
- Judicial Officers (Remuneration and Other Entitlements) Bill: “AN ACT to make provision for the salaries, allowances, pensions and other entitlements of judicial officers, and for connected matters”.
- Vetting Bill: “This Bill seeks to implement security vetting in The Gambia as an important part of the government’s reform of the security sector which will play a critical role in restoring trust and integrity across the security sector [and public institutions]”. It’s described as “an act to establish the National Vetting Agency to administer professional and independent security vetting on post holders and potential post holders in the security sector [and] public institutions”.
- Victims Reparations Bill: “This Bill seeks to establish a reparations commission whose responsibility is to review reparations paid out by the TRRC and make necessary adjustments; receive, evaluate, process and make a determination as to new victims not identified by TRRC; create and maintain an up-to-date database of victims; and, develop and publish guidelines and procedures for the granting of reparations”.