By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The second bill of the day which is expected to be tabled today 1st of November 2023 by the Minister for Justice is the Ban from Public Office (TRRC) Bill under a certificate of urgency. A look at Parliament’s Agenda for today and tomorrow suggests that the Bill will be debated and considered today and another two Bills are to be tabled and considered tomorrow 2nd November 2023.
The two Bills to be considered today are the Ban from Public Office (TRRC) Bill and the Victims Reparations Bill which has already been reviewed by the Gambia Parliamentary Newsletter. Tomorrow, the Former President’s Office Bill and the Commission of Inquiry (Amendment) Bill.
The Ban from Public Office (TRRC) Bill is a very short Bill which is just over one page with 5 clauses. According to the short description of the Bill it is “An Act to provide for the banning from public office of specified persons, and for connected matters”. Furthermore, the objects and reasons indicate that the “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”.
Part II of the Bill focuses on the “Ban from Public Office and stipulates the following.
“3. Persons to be banned”
“(1) A person specified in the Schedule is banned from holding public office for such period as may be specified”.
“(2) A person specified in the Schedule who immediately before the coming into force of this act holds a public office, shall immediately cease to hold such office”.
“4. Offences and Penalty
A person who, while being subject to a ban under this Act, passes his or herself off as a public officer commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not more than three years or to a fine not more than one million dalasis, or to both fine and imprisonment”.
“5. Supplements to the Schedule
“(1) Where a Court of competent jurisdiction convicts an individual of an offence connected to Human Rights Violations, the Court may in addition to a custodial sentence ban the said person from holding public office for such term as the court deems fit”.
“(2) Where a ban under subsection (1) is made by the Court, the Attorney General shall, by Order published in the Gazette, supplement the Schedule accordingly”.
Observations on the Bill
The Ban from Public Office (TRRC) Bill bans people whose names have been gazetted in a Schedule which lists the name of the person and the term of the ban. The Bill seeks to only ban individuals after a Court of competent jurisdiction convicts an individual of an offence and bans them for a specified period. However, there are other Commissions which have equally recommended some individuals should be banned. The Janneh Commission for example recommends for some individuals found liable of gross corruption to be banned.
If the Bill is expanded and not focused only on the TRRC it could serve a more forward-thinking purpose. Perhaps the way the clauses have been written already suggests that, however, the name of the Bill “Ban from Public Office (TRRC) Bill” and the objects and reasons tie it to the TRRC.
In conclusion, the Ban from Public Office (TRRC) Bill is a progressive Bill which seeks to implement recommendations of the TRRC to ban certain individuals from holding public office after a ruling from a Competent Court. This indirectly indicates that persons can seek redress via the legal appeals process. However, the Bill can be more forward-thinking in that all persons banned by any Commission and subsequently by a Competent Court can be listed under one Bill and not just human rights offenders.
This will allow for one Bill to Ban persons from the TRRC, the Janneh Commission and all other Commissions of Inquiry after exhausting the required Legal Procedures. That way any future Commission and Competent Court can ensure persons who are banned and exhaust the legal procedures remain banned for good.