Tuesday, July 14, 2020

National Assembly Considers Constitutional, NHRC (Amendment) Bills 2019

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By: Kebba AF Touray

The National Assembly of the Gambia has on Monday 29th June 2020, considered the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2019 and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) (Amendment) Bill 2019.

The two Bills were tabled before the assembly by the Ex-Justice Minister, Abubacarr Tambedou for scrutiny, consideration and adoption.

Tambedou while moving the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2019, he said “many magistrates are qualified to be appointed as judges of a High Court but section 139(4) of the 1997 constitution makes that impossible”.

He stressed that this limits the possibility of other magistrates even with more than 5 years’ experience from having the opportunity to be eligible for appointment.

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Moving the National Human Rights Commission (Amendment) Bill 2019, he explained that “the Bill seeks to Amend sections 2, 6, 9, 11 (2), 15, 26 and 27(1) of the parent act. Each of the sections is discussed in separate paragraphs and the objective of the Bill, is to provide greater clarity in the internal organization and operation of NHRC”.

The two Bills were then referred to the Human Rights and Constitutional Matters Standing Committee for scrutiny and report its findings and recommendations to the Plenary for consideration.

On the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2019, the Human Rights and Constitutional Matters Committee, observed that section 139(4) of the 1997 constitution impedes the appointment of Judges to a High Court, thus recommended that section 139(4) be amended as it also has among other things the potentials of compromising the standards of judges.

On the National Human Rights Commissions (Amendment), the Committee inter alia that said section 26 of the parent act, seeks to accomplish the sole object of the Bill, which is the establishment of the office of the Commission and the Executive Secretary and the committee also recommended the amendment.

After they went through a thorough process, the whole house of the Assembly unanimously considered and adopted both the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2019 and the National Human Rights Commissions (Amendment) Bill 2019.

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