By Yankuba Jallow
Ba Tambadou, the Minister of Justice on Sunday, 19th January said the ongoing security sector reform is one of the government’s biggest challenges.
Minister Tambadou also doubles as the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Security Sector Reform.
“One of the biggest challenges to our democratic reform process lies in our security sector reform. There is continuing mistrust between ordinary citizens and our men and women in uniform in spite of the best efforts of individual law enforcement agencies to change their approach to law enforcement in the country. It is clear that there is an urgent need for a coordinated, efficient and quick security sector reform process and we encourage the general public to exercise more patience and understanding as this is a complex process that requires tact, professionalism, and care,” Tambadou said.
Mr Tambadou said: “But we must also recognise that a complete institutional transformation of our law enforcement agencies will require a longer and more focused effort but we are determined to see this reform through.”
In terms of legislative reforms, he said they have in the course of last year, tabled for enactment before the National Assembly a number of transformative legislation including access to information bill, an anti-corruption commission bill, a women’s amendment of discriminatory laws bill, a sexual offences bill, and a bill on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.
“More legislation will be tabled in the course of this year including comprehensive amendments to the criminal code and criminal procedure code in order to sanitize our criminal justice system and bring it in line with modern criminal justice norms and practices,” he said.
He said the amendments will introduce non-custodial sentences such as community service, suspended sentences, probation, elimination of the death penalty as a sentencing option, greater flexibility for bail, and plea bargains among others.
He said other new bills will include a prohibition of torture bill which will criminalize acts of torture for the first time in The Gambia; an international crimes bill to cover mass atrocity crimes like genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity; a media services bill, and amendments to the Elections Act in consultation with the Independent Electoral Commission and all registered political parties in the country.