Thursday, February 25, 2021

Is A Commission Of Inquiry A Court Or A Fact Finding Tool?

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Section 200 (1)(d) of the constitution states,

“The President may, whenever he or she deems it advisable,  issue a Commission appointing  one or more Commissioners and authorising  such Commis­sioners to inquire into any  matter  whatever  arising in  The  Gambia  in  which  an  inquiry would, in the opinion of the President, be for the public good.”

Section 202 subsection (1) stipulates the following functions of a commission:

“A Commission of Inquiry shall-

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(a)     make a full and impartial  investigation  into the matter  in respect  of which the Commission is established; and

(b)      furnish  in writing  a  report  on  the  results  of the  inquiry,  including a statement  of the reasons leading  to the conclusions of the Com­mission.”

Section 202 subsection (2) empowers a commission as follows:

“A Commission  of Inquiry shall have all the powers, rights and  privileges of a judge of the High Court at a trial in respect of-

(a)     enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath, affirmation  or otherwise;

(b)     compelling the production of documents;”

When a commission has completed its work it shall submit its report to the president which shall contain its recommendations. According to Section 203,

“On receipt of the report of a commission of Inquiry – (a) the President shall within six months publish the report and his or her comments on the report, together with a statement of any action taken, or the reason for not taking any action, thereon.”

Section 204 protects the rights of a person who is adversely affected by the findings. It states:

“(1) Where a Commission of Inquiry makes an adverse finding against any person, it shall, at the time of submitting its report to the President, inform such persons of the finding and the reasons therefore.

(2) A person against whom any such adverse finding has been made may appeal against such finding to the Court of Appeal as of right as if the finding were a judgment of the High Court, and on the hearing of the appeal the report shall be treated as if it were such a judgment

(3) An appeal under this section shall be made within three months of the appellant being informed of the adverse finding as provided by subsection (1) or such later time as the Court of Appeal may allow.”

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