By: Kebba AF Touray
The National Assembly Thursday referred the bill entitled Anti-Corruption Bill, 2019 to the Business Committee of the Assembly.
The bill has been crawling since its introduction in parliament in 2019 by the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubacarr Tambadou, culminating in delay in getting it passed and assented to into law. The bill has yet again suffered another blow as lawmakers referred it to the business committee.
During the sitting of Thursday, June 15, the National Assembly was scheduled to continue the consideration of the said Bill. However, after a daylong marathon consideration, the Bill could not succeed in getting the required legislators’ backing to let it pass. At the climax of the sitting, members referred the Bill to the Assembly’s Business Committee.
If readers can recall, Tuesday, 3 December 2019 was the day when the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambadou, tabled the said Bill for a second reading and subsequently, the debate on the said Bill ensued at the National Assembly. The former Justice Minister further submitted that the new bill principally seeks to provide more independence to the Anti-Corruption Commission and to give greater powers, particularly investigative powers including more latitude, for investigation.
“The Anti-money laundering Bill is contained in the Anti-Money Laundering Act and nothing stops them from relying on those provisions so long as it falls within their jurisdiction,” the former Justice Minister said. Former Justice Minister Tambadou and several Members of the National Assembly also pointed out that fighting poverty is the most effective mechanism to reduce corruption in the country.
Many members weighed in on the bill and sought more clarification from the former Justice Minister Tambadou, while many speakers agreed that the bill is long overdue.
However, some expressed fears on the implementation of the Bill, saying the Gambia has many good laws, but implementation of these good laws becomes a problem for the authorities.
For the former Justice Minister, the principal tool to fight against the root causes of corruption is the fight against poverty. He said once people realise this, half of the job would be done. He referred to some former lawmakers who said that before talking about corruption, justice must prevail, and pointed out the difficulties that someone who earn D1,500 as monthly salary faces, and said there is need to build an institution around the architecture of the existing structures of the state of oversight of audit institutions, which would alternatively build up integrity.