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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Anti-corruption Bill again absent from assembly agenda

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By Tabora Bojang

The Gambia’s anti-graft bill, which was submitted to the National Assembly three years ago, is not likely to be passed anytime soon after it is excluded yet again in the agenda of the third ordinary session of the National Assembly in the 2022 legislative year released by the Clerk yesterday.

The Standard contacted the deputy clerk of the National Assembly, Buba Jatta who said the anti-corruption bill is currently being reviewed by the legal team of the National Assembly to determine how it should be reintroduced or considered by the current parliament, since the decision of the previous parliament is ‘not binding’ on the current one.

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Asked if this implies the bill will be re-tabled by the executive, the deputy clerk said: “I said that is the legal procedure. Our legal team is working on. They are looking at the best practices on how they ensure transition from a dissolved parliament to a current parliament. The decision of the previous parliament is not binding on the current parliament. So now in a bid to resolve that dilemma our legal team is working on the best practice as in other parliaments. You are aware that the bill has gone up to the committee stage of the previous parliament and that parliament is dissolved. So that is what the legal team is working on and that is why the Anti-Corruption Bill was not included in the agenda”.

Former Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou tabled the Gambia Anti-Corruption Bill alongside five others such as National Human Rights Commission Bill, and Wome’s (Amendment of Discriminatory Laws), and the Sexual Offences Bill as part of governance, human rights and anti-corruption reforms of the Barrow government.

But while the Human Rights Commission Bill and few others are passed, uncertainty continues to cloud the much-awaited anti-corruption law which seeks to tackle or eliminate growing public sector corruption in the country.

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The bill was since referred to the Finance and Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly previously chaired by former Speaker Mariam Jack-Denton following its first and second readings. The committee had asked for an extension in July 2020 to allow it to engage more critical stakeholders on the bill and submitted its report before the plenary on February 3rd 2022 which sets the final stage for its approval and passage.

However, the bill suffered a major blow weeks later after parliament set aside all the bills brought by Minister of Justice Dawda Jallow due to his absence from parliament without any prior formal communication. Since then, the bill was written off from the agenda and was envisaged to be passed by the 6th [current legislature].

The current parliament convened its first ordinary sessions but the anti-corruption bill is yet to be discussed and it’s absent yet again in the new agenda of the third ordinary session of the 2022 legislative year which will commence from September 12 to September 30th 2022.

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