By MUHAMMED S. BAH
Members of the National Assembly, moved a motion for the establishment of a select committee on Human Right and Constitutional Matters.
The committee is to ensure the protection of Human rights and fundamental freedoms of all without distinction, and observed by State institutions and apparatuses.
Tabling the Motion before his fellow Law makers, Kebba K. Barrow, the Member for Kombo South and Majority Leader of the National Assembly, urged his colleagues to consider the motion, because there has been never such a committee to oversee Human Rights and Constitutional Matters in the country.
“Chapter 4, Section 17 of the 1997 Constitution, specifically provides for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. As representatives of the people, we must ensure that their rights and freedoms are protected and upheld by all organs of the State, including this August body,” the Majority Leader noted. He added that looking at the political history of the Gambia, Human Rights and Constitutional matters were no go areas; that this by extension, affects them as Law makers. The Majority leader said the mandate of the Committee is to look into all aspects of Human Rights and Constitutional matters, towards the compliance of the State; that the propose Committee, shall consist of a Chairperson and 8 other members.
The motion which was seconded by Omar Ceesay, the Member for Niamina East, said the formation of such a Committee, is long overdue; that, this is one of the most important committees that will have a direct impact on the lives of Gambians people and anyone residing in the country.
“In past years, the assembly has been fettered because of an individual and members couldn’t express the will of the people who elected them,” he underscored.
The Member for Niamina East said, it is their duty to ensure, that people’s rights are protected and that they can be able to speak their minds.
Ma Janko Samusah, a nominated member in supporting the motion said, the committee should ensure that people rights are protected; that there are Human Rights violations going on, despite the new dispensation and cited the congestion of the nation’s prisons and an example.
“Good governance and democracy cannot take place if there are Human right violations,” Samusa remarked.
During his intervention Ousman Sillah, the Member for Banjul North, said the formation of the Committee is timely; that, the committee will help the National Human Rights Commission to do its work, in promoting fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals living in the country; that the Committee in it’s over sight functions, should visit places of detention and prisons, to see the conditions Sillah noted that they should work with National Civic Education to sensitize the people.
However the Member for Banjul North made an observation by pointing out the importance of increasing the membership of the Committee to twelve, so that it can have a broader representation.