By MUHAMMED S. BAH
Fatou Njie-Jallow, the Ombudsman, has expressed the need to extend her institution’s mandate to the private sector, due to the high level of complaints they received. Mrs Njie-Jallow said the number of complaints they receive from the private sector has increased and their mandate is only limited to the public sector. This she said deters them to take further steps in redressing these issues. She however said that complainants that are purely from workers in the private sector, are advised as to where to seek redress”.
Madam Njie-Jallow made these remarks at the one day sensitization workshop on the role and function of her office for public officials and the media.
The main objective she said is to create awareness on the roles and functions of the office of the Ombudsman, held at a local hotel in Senegambia on Tuesday 2nd April 2019, and was attended by public officials including security personnel and members of the media.
Mrs Njie-Jallow further stated that the number of complaints has increased since the advent of this new dispensation from 190 per year, to 411. She attributed this to what she calls the democratic environment currently prevailing, which she said allows people to exercise their rights.
She cited the nature of the complaints people brought forward, key amongst them being maladministration, injustice, human rights such as unfair treatment, retirement benefits, unlawful terminations, among other related issues pertaining to their work.
She express their intention towards decentralizing their office to reach rural communities, by boosting existing offices in Kerewan, Mansakonko and Basse; that they have plans to open a fourth office in the Central River Region (CRR).
Mrs Njie-Jallow disclosed that as per their mandate which is enshrined in the 1997 Ombudsman Act, they have visited fifty two Police stations, fifteen Police posts, six immigration offices, and one military barrack across the country. She said they were able to visit the main mile-two prison, Jeshwang and Janjangbureh, and they looked into the conditions of these facilities. She expressed her office’s commitments towards protecting the fundamental human rights of the people, most especially those who are under detention.
Participants were taken through the roles and functions of the Ombudsman, complaints and procedures and investigation, and monitoring visits to prisons, Police cells and other detention centres.
The Ombudsman’s office is a Constitutional requirement stated in Chapter X, Section 163 of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia. The creation of the institution was for the pursuance of the ideals of good governance through access to Justice, promotion of the rule of Law and protection of human rights.
Most participants are of the view that the Ombudsman would have been one of the institutions to regulate unlawful termination of public servants, and to make sure people working in the public sector have better working conditions. Gambian critics both at home and in the diaspora, have strongly criticize the institution during the former dispensation for not performing up to task. Many hope that this office will work towards executing their mandates in this current dispensation, without fear or favour.