Consultations to scrutinize Security Matters section in Gambia’s draft constitution underway

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF) and Gambian media Friday begun consultations to scrutinize the proposed mandates and rights of the security apparatus in the country’s draft constitution.
The consultation targets to capture views and concerns of media practitioners which will enable them to come up a position paper that will be submitted to the Constitutional Review Commission –CRC- for consideration.
The new constitution seeks to look forward and provide the framework, safeguards and accountability mechanisms to support Gambia’s ongoing transition towards a modern democracy.
The partners focused on the various provisions of the constitution that reference security sector institutions. The security sector reform was established in 2017 to help restructure the security and improve public trust.
Discussions were focused on the review of the proposed structure and mandates of security institutions and review of the proposed rights and accountability mechanisms.
Jainaba Faye, political and economic affairs officer at the British High commission in Banjul said Gambia has taken another landmark step as the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) published, for consultation, the first draft of a new constitution as part of the country’s transition process
“The new draft attempted to reflect the breadth of public opinion while respecting international norms and standards, including treaties and international commitments which Gambia is a signatory to.”
She said that was why they decided to partner with DCAF in the implementation of the project titled: supporting The Gambia security sector reform through constitutional building process.
“The project seeks to review all the security sector related provisions contained in the draft constitution, with specific attention to the security sector institutions respective mandates and power, and to draft a position paper to be submitted to the CRC,” Faye said.
The political and economic affairs officer said new the constitution should serve as a strong pillar for Security Sector Reform and media has a very important role to play in that process.
Lorraine Serrano, gender and security division programme manager of DCAF Geneva office, said the draft constitution came at the right time considering the ongoing security sector reform.
“I think relatively it is in line with international standards. There is a lot for them to consider. I really hope that the submission we made in term of national security sections is taken into account,” Serrano said.
During deliberations, participants emphasised the need for separation of powers in the constitution, to enable people to know who is doing what in the security apparatus.
They also raised concerns on the objectives and functions of the Gambia Police Force on section 287 sub-section (a to e), saying the section is not ‘specific’ and it does not include the most important mandate of the police which is maintenance of peace and order and the protection of lives and property.
They suggested for the inclusion of the national assembly and the civil society in the national security service commission for accountability purposes.
Yousef Taylor, Gainako online news editor said the draft constitution is a big step from the 1997 constitution, saying in his view, SIS should be mandated to the constitution because historically, they were used as a private army for the ex-president and that should not be repeated.
Mr Taylor said it will be good thing for SIS officers to clearly understand the mandate of the security and how they cannot be used against the citizens by the president or authorities.

Story written by Juldeh Njie

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