By Bakary Ceesay
Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow, QC the Chairperson of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) today announced that it is on track to deliver a draft Constitution soon.
“Consistent with its terms of reference, the CRC is well poised to deliver to Gambians at home and abroad a draft Constitution that will engender public debate and comments before finalisation”,
He intimated that significant strides have been made in collating and analyzing the public opinions received during the CRC’s consultation processes. The public opinions were gathered through different processes to ensure that a broad spectrum of Gambians were reached in order to ensure a fair balance to guide the CRC in making informed decisions during the drafting process.
These processes were the face-to-face dialogue with Gambians at home, face-to-face dialogue with Gambians living abroad, focused group discussions, dialogue with select Senior Secondary Schools, conduct of household surveys using specified enumeration areas, administration of online survey questionnaires, dialogue with stakeholders (both public and private), the CRC Issues Document and responses thereto, independent submissions to the CRC, and contributions made through social and the print media.
Justice Jallow indicated that the
public consultation process has been a very challenging but fruitful one and he
and his colleague Commissioners have learnt a lot in terms of the views and
aspirations of Gambians and other stakeholders.
The CRC also wishes to assure the public that a lot of work has been going on behind the scene to ensure that The Gambia is counted among countries that have progressive Constitutions. Therefore, the CRC wishes to assure the public that it is doing its best to keep to its mandate and to deliver a draft Constitution for public consultation within the next few weeks.
It is the CRC’s expectation to publish the draft Constitution online and to make available a limited number of hard copies, and to thereafter embark on another round of face-to-face consultations with Gambians across the country to ensure that there is a good review process through active participation. The date and venues for the next round of consultations will be duly communicated to the public. The period for public consultations will be one month from the date of publication of the draft Constitution; the face-to-face dialogue within the country is envisaged to be for a two-week period. This will enable the CRC to complete its assignment as mandated under the Constitutional Review Commission Act, 2017.
The CRC is cognizant of the high expectations of Gambians concerning the drafting of this new national document of monumental importance. While the draft Constitution is not expected to touch upon or address every public opinion that has been canvassed, the CRC hopes that by publishing the draft Constitution the general public will have a good opportunity to review the draft and make constructive contributions in its finalisation. Therefore, the CRC remains committed to its mandate and will continue to ensure that the constitutional review process continues to be guided by the principles of Transparency, Participation, Inclusiveness, Representation, and National Ownership.
The five technical committees established to assist the CRC with expert inputs have all submitted their reports to the Commission. International consultants with good track records in the review and drafting of Constitutions in Africa, were also received recently by the CRC as part of its strategy to consult widely and harness best practices within and outside of The Gambia, in order to deliver a document that reflects international best practices consistent with the values and aspirations of Gambians. The Consultants will continue their assignments until such time as is necessary leading to the preparation of the final draft Constitution.
Work continues in earnest at the CRC Secretariat to assist the Commission in achieving its ultimate objective of drafting a sound Constitution which reflects the collective values, beliefs and aspirations of all Gambians, and a report in relation to the process of drafting the Constitution.
The CRC wishes to use this opportunity to thank and congratulate fellow Gambians and other stakeholders for their enthusiasm, support and positive contributions, and also to encourage them to continue to support the Commission as it journeys to the conclusion of its assignment. The Commission remains committed to its mandate and is therefore determined to deliver a draft Constitution that will reflect, as far as possible, the wishes and aspirations of the Gambian people, which take into account and embody, to the extent considered feasible, international best practices.