Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow, the Chairperson of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), has told the media that the Commission has visited 47 communities in 4 Regions, in their ongoing in-country public consultation with the citizenry on the proposed new Constitution.
“Since the 4thof November 2018, the CRC has embarked on in-country public consultations and has so far covered the North Bank, the Central River, Upper River and Lower River Regions. We have visited a total of 47 communities in these 4 Regions, to which all the neighbouring and satellite villages in the relevant districts of the communities, were invited to participate. The consultations are well on track.” said Justice Jallow.
Jallow said the CRC team is currently in the West Coast Region from where, public consultations with the citizenry will extend to the Kanifing and Banjul Administrative Areas.
“By the time we complete these remaining Administrative Regions, we would have visited an additional 41 communities, making an overall total of 88 communities visited by the CRC,” Jallow asserted.
In addition to the public consultations, Jallow said in communities visited within the Regions, the staff of the CRC were able to visit neighbouring villages to conduct face-to-face surveys and interviewed residents, who were unable to attend the public consultations. “This is a measure designed to ensure that the CRC is able to reach as many Gambians in the various communities as possible, to be able to gauge wider public opinion on matters concerning the new Constitution,” Jallow said.
He maintained that the public consultations involved among others, written contributions, responses to questionnaires, focused and thematic reviews and interviews, face-to-face dialogue and contributions through the CRC website. Jallow averred that the public consultative process will incorporate the views and aspirations of Gambians living in the Diaspora and will cover some countries in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, some states in the United States, as well as Canada.
“The public consultations so far have been very impressive, interesting and interactive. Gambians want to be consulted on issues that touch on their lives and the lives of their families. Our assessment thus far is that they are appreciative of the fact that they are being consulted, so they can meaningfully contribute towards the Constitution-building process,” Jallow said. Jallow stated that securing adequate tangible financial resources to make long-term planning including visits with the Gambian Diaspora, unfortunately remains a big challenge to the Commission. “The challenge is really receiving adequate funding in the CRC accounts, to be able to make appropriate long-term plans, such as formally establishing technical committees to focus on specific technical Constitutional issues, and commencing arrangements for public consultations with the Gambian Diaspora,” Justice Jallow stated.
In conclusion, Justice Jallow reiterated that the CRC is independent and does not represent any particular interest group. “The Constitutional review process therefore ensures that every Gambian at home and abroad, and any other person who can bring value to the Constitution-making process, have the opportunity to do so in an open, transparent and impartial manner. The process will continue to be guided by the principles of participation, inclusiveness, representation, transparency and national ownership,” he concluded.