By Mustapha Darboe
The National Assembly last night passed two important bills, the human rights commission bill and the truth reconciliation and reparation commission bill.
“The establishment of the national human rights commission is crucial to ensure compliance with all the human rights treaties to which the Gambia is a party,” said justice minister Abubacarr Tambadou as he tabled the human rights bill before lawmakers.
He further said that since The Gambia is home to the continental human rights enforcement body, it is imperative for the country to follow the best practices in upholding the highest standards of human rights through the establishment of a specialised body to deal with human rights promotion and enforcement.
The bill which received the unanimous support from all lawmakers has been described by activists as “long overdue”.
The representative of Central Baddibou, Sulayman Saho, said the establishment of the commission is a necessity in any country that is serious about the protection of rights of her people.
The deputy executive director of Tango, Madi Jobarteh, an outspoken political activist and a prominent political blogger, Sidi Sanneh both said the independence of the institution must also be protected.
“The setting up the Commission alone is not enough. It must be a functioning institution that acts as deterrence and an arbiter to human rights abuses, should there be any, in a country that has suffered under the previous regime,” Sanneh told The Standard.
“To achieve this end, membership to the Commission must be courageous citizens who believe in human rights with high moral caliber who will speak truth to power.”
The commission whose members will be appointed by the president, according to the Act, will consist of chairperson, vice chairperson and three other members and its chairperson should be a legal practitioner with no less than ten years experience.
The Commission shall be headed by an executive secretary who will be appointed in consultation with the public service commission for a five-year term.
The Act gives the president the powers to remove a member of the Commission from office on grounds of inability to perform functions, misconduct, incompetence, bankruptcy or affiliation to any political party. Meanwhile the assembly also passed the much talked about TRRC bill.
Read more on that tomorrow.