Wednesday, August 4, 2021

National Assembly Defers Bill on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters


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By: Kebba AF Touray

The National Assembly yesterday 17th December 2019, deferred the Bill entitled ‘Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters’ to the relevant Committees of the Assembly for further scrutiny.

Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambedou, while tabling the Bill before the Legislators, said the Bill covers assistance in relation to the taking of evidence, production of documents, search and seizure, custody and immunities.

He said: “The Bill will help in the quest to improve the prevention of investigation and prosecution of crime through cooperation and mutual assistance in criminal matters. It will also cover arrangements for persons to give evidence and sections dealing with custody of persons in transit. The Bill includes a provision that deals with the proceeds of crime. For these reasons, I beg to move that this Honorable House adopt the Bill entitled mutual legal assistance in criminal matter 2019”.

At this juncture, the Speaker of the National Assembly Mariam Jack Denton, in accordance with Clause 65 of the Standing Orders, opened a debate on the Bill.
During the debate, Legislators who took part in the debate expressed their views on the Bill.

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The Member for Wuli East Suwaibou Touray, who seconded the motion, debated that the Bill once adopted will help control cross border crimes and as well enhance judicial cooperation with The Gambia’s neighbors. The Member for Badibu Central Sulayman Saho expressed his support for the Bill and said it will help greatly in the promotion of access to justice, multilateral relations in pursuit of justice and will build confidence in the justice service delivery system and pave the way to fast track investigation processes.

Bakary Camara the Member for Kiang Central, stated that Mutual Legal Assistance Bill will help combat crimes in the country and as well strengthen peace and order. He implored on his fellow Legislators to give their support to the Bill.

Sainey Touray the Member for Jarra East, lamented that the Bill once adopted, will a go a long way in curbing trans-boundary crimes and criminal activities; that it will signal to the people that once adopted, gone will be the days when a person will commit crime and go scot-free.

Billay G. Tunkara the Member for Kantora, remarked that when it comes into force, there will be no room for escape from a crime that one commits under the pretext of diplomacy or other status and/or background.

The Bill was then deferred to the relevant Legislative Committee for further scrutiny, consideration and adoption.

Earlier, Members also debated on the Access to Information Bill 2019 which came under heated debate, before its subsequent deferral to the Information and Communications Committee of the National Assembly for further scrutiny, consideration and adoption.
Sittings continue.

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