Observations on the first Draft Constitution
It is with great pleasure that we write to express our profound appreciation for the wonderful piece of legislation drafted by the CRC. Formulation of constitution of such magnitude in a very diverse society like ours is not an easy task. One must reflect all of the divergent views, values, beliefs, and interests of different stakeholders in the formulation process. This, we believe, you have done to the best of your ability and prowess. We commend the CRC collectively and individually for expressing their love and loyalty to the nation by exerting all efforts to make sure that the wishes and aspirations of all Gambians are echoed in the law, as we march to carve out an inclusive and progressive future for the country.
However, we observe that Sport, although a very important social and economic factor in any nation’s development, is not mentioned even a single time in the first draft constitution. Therefore, we have collected suggestions and recommendations from sport stakeholders, which we here present to the CRC for consideration. We believe that Sports must be constitutionally and legally recognized in the draft constitution. The following are our recommendations:
1. Sport Law
This legislation should outline matters related to commercialization, contracts, sport disputes, protection of athletes’ rights, protection of people with disabilities, hosting of international events, funding of national teams and national associations, transparency, accountability and good governance.
2. Establishment of Sport Court/Tribunal
There is an urgent need for the establishment of a competent court/tribunal to settle all sport related disputes before such matters are referred or appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne (Switzerland).
The proposed Sports Tribunal should have jurisdiction to hear appeals from decisions of the National Sports Council, National Sports Associations or Regional Sport Committees (and other sports-related disputes), where mutually agreed by all interested parties. We further recommend that the constitution formally recognizes the proposed Sports Tribunal, as it does the District Tribunals and other judicial bodies.
3. Construction of Sport Infrastructure (accessibility to people with disabilities)
We note that section 56 of the Draft Constitution provides for disability rights, including the right to equal treatment and dignity. We suggest for this section also specifies the rights of people with disabilities to engage in sports and to have access to suitable sport facilities. In addition, we recommend that the right to practice sport and the availability of sport facilities be specifically recognized among the social rights of all citizens. This is a necessity because lack of infrastructures in our communities has contributed to widespread apathy towards sport in the country.
4. Budgetary allocation for sport
In our view, sport has not been sufficiently supported in the national budget over the years. The budgetary allocations for sport have always been relatively insignificant, being treated in conjunction with youth activities in general. For this reason, we recommend that the budgetary allocation for sport be increased to a far more significant percentage of the national budget. Sport not only contributes to youth and community development and empowerment but is a proven significant tool for social change, health, education equity and transformation as well as for economic development.
In closing, we would like to reiterate our profound gratitude to the CRC for a job well done. However, we request that the above recommendations in the interest of sport be included in the constitution to ensure the construction of a healthy, peaceful and active society through sport participation.
Please accept the assurances of our highest consideration and esteem.
President – NUSF Gambia