The forum attracted Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Local Area Councilors and the media. The event accorded committee members the opportunity to delve into the existence of the Public Petition Committee, and the scope of its mandate; to encourage the public to channel concerns through the services of the National Assembly.
Marabi S. Hydara, Director of Committees at parliament highlighted the need for public knowledge on the works of the committee.
The standing Committee, he recalled, was established in 2020 by the fifth legislature to receive and address public concerns through an open and transparent process.
Hydara further explained that the committee plays a quasi-judicial function dealing with grievances and complaints on policy deficiency.
“The committee is recently considering the petition submitted by staff of the GTBoard against its management.” he said.
He indicated that it is an alternative to the court where the process might be more expensive and time-consuming, pointing out the legality of the Committee to Section 109, 1 (e) of the Constitution which gives the National Assembly the power to establish “such standing or other committees as it considers necessary for the exercise of its functions”.
Also speaking, Sunkary Badjie, chairman of the Committee and Member for Foni Berefet, acknowledged the role of stakeholders as vital in the promotion and protection of human rights, thus enhancing good governance.
He argued that it is the CSOs and the media that would further inform the population on the functions of the committee in consideration and review of public petitions.
He also referred to Standing Order 125 (1) a, b, and c which mandated the committee to consider public petitions addressed to the Assembly; decide in cases of dispute or admissibility; and keep under review the public petitions system.
The convergence, according to him, presented the right opportunity for lawmakers to respond to questions such as who is eligible to file a petition, the duration of reviews, and the hearing process.
Madi Jobarteh, Country Representative of Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), observed that since the National Assembly deals with everything, it is necessary to strengthen the structure of the House as well as its staff.
He described the Public Petition Committee as one of the most public oriented committees, thus “our support in bringing the National Assembly to the people”.
He assured the committee of WFD’s continuous support for more public engagements with hope of strengthening democracy in the country.
“Since its inception, the Petition Committee has received eleven petitions out of which three were admissible and acted upon.”
Other members of the committee at the seminar were the Member for Wuli East, Suwaibou Touray; Nominated Member Ndey Yasin Secka, and Alagie Jawara Member for Lower Badibou.