Assembly Queries justice minister’s absence

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By Tabora Bojang

The National Assembly yesterday referred a motion to its Business Committee to investigate and review the conduct of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Dawda Jallow over his absence in parliament without any prior formal communication.

AG Jallow was expected to attend proceedings for the third reading and subsequent passage of several bills under his responsibility including the Labour Amendment bill, Forced Labour Amendment and Mutual Legal Assistance bills.

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 “As presiding officer, I am very concerned that parliament will not be able to proceed with business due to the unavailability of the attorney general without any prior formal communication to my office or the office of the clerk. For this reason, I am requesting the Assembly Business Committee (ABC) to urgently convene a meeting to look into this matter and review the conduct of the Hon  Attorney General in accordance with sections 74, 75, 77 and 110 of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic and the various provisions of the Standing Orders of the National Assembly. The ABC shall advise the plenary of this Assembly for any possible further action. Notwithstanding, the Hon Attorney General is hereby required to tender a letter of apology to the assembly for his failure to attend to businesses under his charge in parliament, without prejudice to the right of the Assembly to take any further action,” Speaker Mariam Denton said.

The speaker further explained that the minister was said to be out of the country adding that his absence was made known to the assembly when they were about to commence business yesterday morning.

Speaker Denton, who is also a lawyer, however reiterated that the assembly will not hesitate to exercise its powers on government officials who violate the assembly’s resolution of June 22nd 2021 which states that ministers are required to appear in person before the assembly to answer to business or officially notify the assembly in good time.

“This resolution was communicated to Her Excellency, The Vice President and for the attention of all cabinet ministers via a letter dated 01st September, 2021. On that note, Hon Cabinet Ministers and government by large are reminded to take the business of parliament very seriously and attend to their schedule accordingly. Failure of such, the assembly will be left with no option but to charge defaulting ministers of contempt of parliament,” she warned.