By Ousainou J Sawaneh and Isatou R. Kandeh
After the rejection of the 2020 draft constitution Promulgation Bill on 22nd September 2020 by the National Assembly. The Constitutional Review Commission Chairman Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow QC has finally break silence.
Jallow said history books will record that the Draft Constitution was the first of its kind assigned to and prepared exclusively by Gambians.
He added that history will also record that it was the first to be stopped in its tracks before it could advance to a referendum.
CRC Chair made these comments yesterday in a press conference held at the Sir, Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center in Kololi.
Jallow said the draft was the first of its kind that employed full and open participatory democracy to involve citizens at home and abroad to express their wishes and aspirations.
“if memory serves me well, it was the first to be ever presented to the Legislature for endorsement in order to go to a national referendum. That in itself is not, and should not be, the end of the world for us as a country. So again, let’s keep the faith!” he said
CRC Boss said it is unfortunate that a tiny minority of critics have leveled the claim that the Draft Constitution is plagiarized, adding that indeed there have been those that never said anything good of the CRC from the time of its inception. For them, it was personal. Justice Jallow said
“the CRC, with its team of experienced draftspersons and international consultants/drafters, has not given any credence to such claims and essentially view the claims as merely stoking emotions to back up the critics’ rejection of the Draft Constitution’’ he stated
Chairman Jallow responding to critics said no Constitution in this world is copyrighted and that’s for a good reason. Every Constitution, including the Constitution of the USA that has been touted as a model by some critics, has drawn inspiration from some one or more constitutions or other written literature.
“Bearing in mind that it could not have developed a perfect Constitution (and that certainly was not its aim), the CRC had endeavored to produce a Draft Constitution that was truly reflective of the wishes and aspirations of the general populace of The Gambia’’ he said
Citing on the rejection of the draft as others claim that, the draft favors particular groups. Jallow however said even if the Draft Constitution were to be amended today, it could not be described as a perfect document. ‘As far as the CRC is concerned, the Draft Constitution, with all its perceived shortcomings, represented the sovereign will of the people of The Gambia sought through public consultations in accordance with our terms of reference as outlined in the CRC Act, 2017”.
Justice Jallow however speaking on the commitment of the commission said the CRC has done it utmost to embrace in the Draft Constitution the country’s national values and ethos. “We tried to safeguard The Gambia’s existence as a sovereign independent State, including its republican system of governance while at the same time embracing our democratic values and respect for and promotion of the rule of law and human rights” he stated
In line with the wishes and aspirations expressed, CRC Boss said during the first round of public consultations adding that in every few areas where we had departed from their expressed opinions, “we advanced our reasons for so doing. The overwhelming response country-wide was one of great satisfaction. In fact many said to us, what is in the proposed Draft Constitution is what we said to you, do not change anything”
Jallow reveals that the only thing that continued to keep CRC in office to date was the obligation outlined in section 22 of the CRC Act, 2017. That section essentially empowered the National Assembly to request CRC Commissioners “to attend before the national Assembly to clarify any matter and answer any question relating to the provisions of the Constitution. In the end, as you all would be aware, we were not requested to attend to clarify any matter or answer any question.
Vice Chair of the Constitutional Review Commission, Madam Hawa Sisey Sabally said “it has been a long journey and we at the CRC have arrived and I want to thank all the contribution in the process’’