By Awa B. Bah
The Minister of Justice Aboubacarr Tambedou, on Wednesday 13th December 2017, responded to concerns raised by deputies at the National Assembly, during the questions and answers session in the fourth Ordinary Session of the National Assembly in the 2017 Legislative year, in Banjul.
Ousman Sillah, National Assembly member for Banjul North and Halifa Sallah, National Assembly member for Serrekunda, demanded answers from the Minister of Justice.
In his question to the Minister, Hon. Ousman Sillah asked the Minister whether he is aware of any issuing and or withdrawal of permits that prevented the youth from assembling to express their grievances against power outage.
In his response, the Minister of Justice said he is aware that the office of the Inspector General of Police issued a permit to some youth to stage a protest against power outages in the greater Banjul area; that the office of the Inspector General of Police has cause to revoke the permit due to its assessment of the situation; that under the current public order act, the Inspector General of Police has the prerogative to deny the issuing of a permit if he is satisfied that the procession is likely to cause a breach of peace.
On his part, Halifa Sallah National Assembly for Serrekunda Halifa questioned the Minister if there is any provision in the public order act which requires the issuing of a license to assemble peacefully without any procession to express grievances; that if not would the Minister of Justice undertake to sensitize the public on what constitutes lawful and unlawful assembly of citizens, to prevent any violation of rights to peaceful assembly.
The Minister in his response, said Section 5 of the Public Order Act empowers the Inspector General of Police and Regional Governors and other authorities, to regulate all public processions through the issuing of license; that there is no provision in the Public Order Act for a public assembly simpliciter; that the right to assemble and demonstrate peacefully is guaranteed by Section 25 (d) of the 1997 Constitution and Section 198 of the same Constitution established a National Council for Civic Education which has the primary mandate to sensitize the public and create awareness on the principles and objectives of the Constitution. The Ministry he remarked, will use every opportunity to sensitize Gambians on their Constitutional and legal rights. He however said there is the human and financial constraint for them to undertake this task as a primary obligation.
Alhagi Sankung Jammeh, Member for Foni Jarrol Constituency asked the Minister how far his Ministry has gone with the investigation into the shooting and killing of Haruna Jatta of Kanilai, during the faithful peaceful demonstration that turned violent between the villagers of Kanilai and ECOMIG forces.
In his response, the Minister said the incident which led to the death of Haruna Jatta involving the ECOMIG force in the Gambia was really unfortunate. However, he said the investigation into the circumstance of the shooting that led to the death of Haruna Jatta, is being handled by the joint investigation team of the Gambia Armed Forces and the ECOMIG force; that his office has not yet received a copy of the investigation report and assured the concerned deputies, that he will share the content of the report when his office is availed a copy.
Hon. Ndey Yassin Secka, raised the issue of the tabling of the disability bill before deputies and asked the Minister to shed light on the issue.
Updating deputies on the current status of the bill, the Minister said the disability bill is being prepared under the auspices of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare; that the Ministry of Justice has drafted the bill and sent it back to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare; that it is now the responsibility of the said Ministry to submit the bill to Cabinet for approval and its subsequent tabling before the National Assembly for enactment.