Constitional Review Commission poised to implement action plan

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) announces that it is on track to effectively execute the CRC Action Plan covering the period June 2018 to November 2019. “The CRC is well poised to implement the Action Plan for the review of the Constitution” according to the Chairperson of the Commission, Honourable Justice Cherno Jallow, QC.

Honourable Justice Jallow intimated that significant progress has been made since the members of the CRC were sworn into office in June by His Excellency President Adama Barrow. “To date”, he continued, “the CRC has developed an Action Plan that will guide the Commission and facilitate the execution of its mandate. Activities and resources have been identified and indicative timelines for the implementation of specific tasks prescribed to ensure that targets are met and that the process is not unduly protracted. The Action Plan covers, inter alia, strategies for communication, research and documentation, public consultation, civic education, monitoring and evaluation as well as a desk review of the 1965 Independence Constitution Order, 1970 Constitution, 1997 Constitution along with their amendments, a review of Constitutions of select countries and of relevant Regional and International Instruments relevant to The Gambia.”

In the Action Plan, the CRC envisages a consultative process as part of the review that would involve all stakeholders, including communities all over the length and breadth of The Gambia. A pre-consultation is also planned with traditional leaders and Governors. The pre-consultation would encourage mobilisation and greater participation of the people and would give them strong assurance that their opinions and contributions matter a lot in the constitution-making process. In-country public consultations would be done in phases at District and Ward levels with a view to engaging the populations and thus, make the process as inclusive and participatory as possible. The consultative process would also incorporate the views and aspirations of Gambians living in the Diaspora and it will cover some countries in Africa, Europe, the United States of America (USA), Canada and the Middle East. The calendar for the public consultations is expected to be published shortly and it should provide advance notice to the general public to enable them to make appropriate plans to engage the CRC. 

As part of its mandate, the CRC is in the process of establishing a fully functional Secretariat to facilitate the work mandated under the Constitutional Review Commission Act, 2017. The process of recruitment of support staff for the Secretariat is in progress.

From 16-20 July 2018, members of the CRC, including the CRC Secretary, attended a Planning Retreat at the invitation of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) in The Hague with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). All expenses related to the retreat were covered by International IDEA and the UNDP. The CRC welcomes the partnership which enhances its own plans and processes.

IDEA is an intergovernmental organisation that has, since 2006, a dedicated programme for constitution building processes. Through this programme, it provides comparative knowledge and advice on constitution building processes and on comparative constitutional design. IDEA has had a series of consultations and workshops with the Gambia Government, civil society and academia in the past and its Global Constitution Building Programme is housed in The Hague, Netherlands. During the Planning Retreat, comparative experiences and expertise were shared by key officials that had been part of the Kenyan Committee of Experts on Constitutional Review, Liberian Constitutional Review Commission and the Sri Lanka Constitutional Reform. General principles and considerations in constitutional design choices were also discussed.

The CRC expects to commence engaging the Gambian public from September this year. This process will include liaising with all stakeholders, namely the various civic, professional, religious, youth and other interest-focused associations and groups, including political parties, the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary as well as the general public. The consultations will involve, among others, inviting written contributions, responses to questionnaires, focused and thematic reviews, face-to-face dialogue and contributions through the CRC website. The CRC will, in due course, finalise and publish the venues for the public consultations both within and outside the Gambia.