BY Kebba AF Touray
The 2017 National Stakeholders Conference on Justice and Human Rights which lasted for three (3) days, ended on Thursday 25/5/2017.
Day three like other days also witnessed educative panel discussions, after which recommendations and closing remarks were made, thus bringing the conference to a climax. During the discussions, panelists discussed issues critical to truth and reconciliation process, truth commission and transitional justice, which centered on agendas such as the engagement of youths, women, persons with disability, establishing a truth commission and how Civil Society can be engaged in the establishment of a transitional justice.
- Recommendations of the Conference on media law reforms include: Repealing and reviewing the media draconian laws to ensure freedom of expression and the independence of the media; establishment of media focal points in each ministry to ensure access to information; sensitization on new media laws; enact laws to create the enabling environment to ensure media diversity and pluralism and provision of scholarships to the journalists among others.
- Recommendations on criminal justice includes: rights to have legal representation; to ensure separation of powers; ensuring the independent of judges and magistrates and capacity building for police investigators among others.
- Recommendation on truth and reconciliation includes: the involvement of traditional leaders; the need for institutional reforms and the need to have clear information on the violation issue to be dealt with.
- Recommendation on constitutional reforms includes: the re-introduction of absolute majority; the adoption of two term limit for the presidency; the removal of upper age limit; the office of the Ombudsman should be extended to the private sectors and parliamentary oversight in the appointment of ministers, ambassadors and public servants.
- Recommendation on the strengthening of Human Rights architecture: national sensitization of the people on the rights of the citizens; the Executive to respect the decisions of the court houses; constitutional and judicial reforms to ensure checks and balances and the independence of government institutions to fully execute their functions.
In his closing statements the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubacarr Tambadou said that the conference has been a successful one and called on Gambians to render their full support to the Ministry of Justice and the entire government, without which, he added it will be difficult for the government to achieve its goals, because The Gambia is a small country with a big role to play in the sub region and the world at large. He commended Gambians for the high sense of maturity that they demonstrated before, during and after the last presidential election to the world as a peace loving and progressive people.
Mr Tambadou also challenged Gambians to foster social cohesion and encourage national reconciliation and learn to continue to demonstrate maturity in our actions, especially in our quest for justice. He finally thanked many including the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of Sierra Leone and partners such as UNDP, IHRDA, UNICEF and all other participants as well as the hardworking men and women at the Ministry of justice
Other speakers at the closing of the conference include the UN resident coordinator, statements by the Executive Director of the Institute for Human Rights Development in Africa and the representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights who all commended the Ministry of Justice for the initiative and expressed their support in its quest to addressing the past for a better Gambia.