By: Kebba AF Touray
The Office of the National Security (ONS) Friday, 1September held a day roundtable follow-up discussion on the policy objectives of the Security Sector Reform (SSR) of the Gambia.
The Gambia initiated SSR after the change of regime in January 2017. The gathering on Friday brought together members of the media and civil society organizations (CSOs). The meeting was aimed at sharing ideas, views and challenges confronting the SSR process.
The event was also meant to provide update to the CSOs on the outcome of National Consultative Workshop on the Policy Objectives of the Security Sector Reform and Resource Mobilization held in Banjul from June 13 to 16 this year.
Sait Matty Jaw, Executive Director of Center for Research and Policy Development (CRPD), said the Office of National Security should be made permanent and one that is recognized by law.
He said there is also need to capacitate CSOs on security issues to support SSR efforts, adding that there are gaps in understanding the roles of security institutions and how the gaps that exist could be bridged.
The CSOs, Jaw added, should monitor and evaluate the implementation of the SSR.
He said enhancing the participation of the CSOs in the process will contribute to building transparency, accountability and confidence in the SSR process.
He said the CSOs should raise awareness of the communities on SSR to generate support and understanding for the reform process.
“Continuous engagement with communities will help build trust and momentum for [the desired] change,” Jaw said.
Abubakar Suleiman Jeng, the National Security Adviser, said the discussions during the consultative workshop on the Policy objectives of the SSR and Resource Mobilization, focused on the implementation of the Policy Objective of the SSR. He added that they have five priority areas on SSR – achievements, challenges and way forward and strategic approach for resource mobilization.
He stated that the recommendation made during the Banjul workshop which focused on the five priority areas of the SSR strategy include, but not limited to developing overarching security governance and legal policy framework, reform activities to enable civil management and oversight, among others and that the objective is how they can do the implementation
He restated role of the CSOs and how they could influence, support the SSR strategy and enhance collaboration. Issues pertaining to national SSR ownership were discussed and successfully addressed.
The participants at the workshop agreed on recommendations, which include capacity building, planning and resource mobilization, public outreach, sensitization and communication, collaboration, coordination and partnership.
“Conversely, this roundtable discussion was organized with the support of CRPD, as a follow up to implement these recommendations and particularly the key recommendation specific to CSOs as it relates to communication, collaboration, coordination and partnership”, he said.
He emphasized that the contextual approach on the SSR is to ensure buy-in, inclusivity, proper channel of communication and effective advocacy strategy for public sensitization, adding outreach is relevant and that CSOs could play a vital role as important stakeholders.
He stressed that the areas highlighted in their collective drive are meant to ensure the successful implementation of the SSR and therefore they need to collectively remain engaged and coordinated as close partners.
He assured the CSOs and their development partners that the government is committed to the SSR process given the fact the process is at the heart of their national security and development plan.