By Nelson Manneh and Ndey Sowe
CARITAS the Gambia has on Thursday 21st January 2021, engaged Gambians on contentious issues highlighted in the 2020 draft Constitution which was rejected by the National Assembly.
Many politicians said members of the National Assembly of The Gambia killed the 2020 Draft Constitution by voting against it. The session focused on citizenship and respect for human rights which were contentious in the constitutional review process among marginalized groups.
Francis Dominic Mendy, Caritas National Director, said in November 2020, his institution conducted community meetings with youths, women, and persons with disabilities, traditional and local authorities on citizenship, respect for human rights, democracy and rule of law and other issues contentious in the constitutional review process.
Mendy said the meetings were conducted in national languages in order to raise awareness and engender ownership for sustainability. He said Caritas has adopted strategies that will contribute to raising awareness and knowledge about citizenship, respect for human rights, democracy and rule of law.
“These strategies include community meetings, several radio programs in the form of panel discussions, dissemination of songs and jingles (messages) in local languages, and using traditional communicators to educate the electorates on these issues,” he said.
Mendy said the country it is going through a lot of transformation process and people need to know what has happened in the past in order to create a room for reconciliation.
The CARITAS boss said their plan as an institution also include convening of forums to engage young people, persons with disabilities, women and traditional leaders in non-partisan settings around issues of citizenship, political violence prevention, tolerance and respect for human rights, democracy and good governance. He said these steps are essential for social cohesion.
“Each identity group is expected to proffer recommendations, which would inform the next steps for engagement by Caritas and IRI,” he said.
Edrisa Jallow who served as the resource person, said citizenship is clearly indicated in the constitution because every human being has a right to a nationality. He said statelessness should not be encouraged by any nation because citizenship is fundamental.
He took the participants through chapter of the constitution on fundamental rights and freedoms.
“A Political party that wants to serve the nation at its highest office level should come up with programs and policies that will show how they want to govern and run the affairs of the country,” he said.