The National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) in fulfilling its constitutional mandate to educate the Gambian citizenry on their civic rights, duties and responsibilities, is currently conducting 10-days face to face community sensitisation and training of village development committees (VDCs) in the Lower River Region,
Mansakonko Administrative Area, funded by UNDP as part of the support they give to awareness raising on civic education through effective communication and advocacy.
The sensitisation mainly focuses on civic and human rights while the training of VDCs is based on the 2002 Local Government Act. The activities which kicked off on November 27th is expected to last for 10 days.
Addressing participants in the villages of Jalambereh, Sitahuma, Buiba Mandika and Japineh all in Jarra Central District, Mr. Kebba O. Jobe Civic Education Officer at the (NCCE) highlighted the objectives of the activities. He said it is meant to educate the Gambian Populace on their constitutional rights ahead of the Local government elections 2013 and building the capacity of the village development committees (VDCs) as a local government structure on the local government Act 2002. he explained the need for every Gambian to be aware of his or her duties and responsibilities as spelt out in the 1997 Constitution.
Jobe added that a lot of things happen in our communities due to the lack of awareness on how to challenge or handle them while calling on them to be fully conscious of their rights and responsibilities to enable them live in unity and peaceful environment.
Also speaking at these meetings, Ansumana Yarboe Supervisor NCCE, disclosed that the activities are meant for them to have face to face community sensitisation in five Districts in the region to be followed by the trainings of the VDCs.He however thanks the village heads for mobilising their people for the possibility of the meetings.
The following topics were discussed in these meetings while similar meetings and trainings are expected in other parts of the region.
The follwing topics were discussed in all these meetings, followed by the training of some VDCs Executive Members in these villages at the Japineh Health Centre.
The Civic Educators lay emphasis on the Constitution during their sensitisation as follows;
Fundamental rights and freedoms provision,
(1) The fundamental human rights and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter shall be respected and upheld by all organs of the Executive and its agencies, the Legislature and, where applicable to them, by all natural and legal persons in The Gambia, and shall be enforceable by the Courts in Accordance with this Constitution.
(2) Every person in The Gambia, whatever his or her race, Colour, gender, language, religion, political or other Opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other Status, shall be entitled to the fundamental human rights And freedoms of the individual contained in this Chapter, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest.
Protection of right to life
(1) No person shall be deprived of his or her life intentionally except in the execution of a sentence of death imposed by a Court of competent jurisdiction in respect of a criminal offence for which the penalty is death under the Laws of The Gambia as they have effect in accordance with subsection (2) and of which he or she has been lawfully convicted.
(2) As from the coming into force of this Constitution, no court in The Gambia shall be competent to impose a sentence of death for any offence unless the sentence is prescribed by law and the offence involves violence, or the administration of any toxic substance, resulting in the death of another person.
(3) The National Assembly shall within ten years from the date of the coming into force of this Constitution review the desirability or otherwise of the total abolition of the death penalty in The Gambia.
Protection of rights to personal liberty
(1) Every person shall have the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his or her liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law.
(2) Any person who is arrested or detained shall be informed as soon as is reasonably practicable and in any case within three hours, in a language that he or she understands, of the reasons for his or her arrest or detention and of his or her right to consult a legal Practitioner.
(3) Any person who is arrested or detained-
a) for the purpose of bringing him or her before a court in execution of the order of a court; or
b) upon reasonable suspicion of his or her having committed, or being about to commit, a criminal offence under the Laws of The Gambia, and who is not released, shall be brought without undue delay before a court and, in any event, within seventy-two hours.
Protection 21. From inhuman treatment
(1) No person shall be subject to torture or inhuman degrading punishment or other treatment:
Protection 22. From deprivation of property
(1) No property of any description shall be taken possession of compulsorily, and no right over or interest in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any part of The Gambia, except where the following conditions are satisfied"
(a) the taking of possession or acquisition is necessary in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and country planning, or the development utilization of any property in such manner as to promote the public benefit.
(1) No person shall be subject to interference with the privacy of his or her home, correspondence or communications, save as in accordance with law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interest of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the protection of health or morals, for the prevention of disorder or crime or for the protection of the right and freedoms of others.
(2) Searches of the person or the home of individuals shall only be justified-
(a) where these are authorized by a competent judicial authority;
(b) in cases where delay in obtaining such judicial authority carries with it the danger of prejudicing the objects of the search or the public interest and such procedures as are prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly to preclude abuse are properly satisfied.
Provision to secure protection of the law and Fair play
(1) Any court or other adjudicating authority established by law, for the determination of any criminal trial or matter, or for the determination of the existence or extent of any civil right or obligation, shall be independent and impartial; and
a) If any person is charged with a criminal offence, then, unless the charge is withdrawn or where
(b) proceedings are commenced for the determination or the existence of any civil right or obligation, the case shall be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time.
(2) All proceedings of every court and proceedings relating to the determination of the existence or extent of civil rights or obligations before any other authority including the announcement of the decision of the court or other authority shall be held in public:
Provided that the court or other authority may, to such extent as it may consider necessary or expedient in circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice or interlocutory civil proceedings, or to such extent as it may be empowered or required by law to do so in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, the welfare of persons under the age of eighteen years or the protection of the private lives of persons concerned in the proceedings, exclude from its proceedings persons other than the parties thereto and their legal representatives.
Freedom of speech, conscience, assembly, association and movement
(1) Every person shall have the right to --
(a) freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media;
(b) freedom of thought, conscience and belief, which shall include academic freedom;
(c) freedom to practice any religion and to manifest such practice;
(d) freedom to assemble arid demonstrate peaceably and without arms;
(e) freedom of association, which shall include freedom to form and join associations and unions, including political parties and trade unions;
(f) freedom to petition the Executive for redress of grievances and to resort to the Courts for the protection of his or her rights.
(2) Every person lawfully within The Gambia shall have the right to move freely throughout The Gambia, to chose his or her own place of residence within The Gambia, and to leave The Gambia.
(3) Every citizen of The Gambia shall have the right to return to The Gambia.
Political rights 26: Every citizen of the Gambia of full age and capacity shall have the right, without unreasonable restrictions-
a) to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives;
b) to vote and stand for elections at genuine periodic elections for public office, which elections shall be by universal and equal suffrage and be held by secret ballot;
c) to have access, on general terms of equality to public service in The Gambia.
To have access, on general terms of equality to public service in The Gambia.
Rights to marry 27.
(1) Men and women of full age and capacity shall have the right to marry and found a family.
(2) Marriage shall be based on the free and full consent of the intended parties.
Rights of women 28.
(I) Women shall be accorded full and equal dignity of the person with men.
(2) Women shall have the right to equal treatment with men, including equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities.
Rights of the. Disabled 31.
(1) The right of the disabled and handicapped to respect and human dignity shall be recognized by the State and society.
(2) Disabled persons ball be entitled to protection against exploitation and to protection against discrimination, in particular as regards access to health services, education and employment.
In any judicial proceedings in which a disabled person is a party, the procedure shall take his or her condition into account.
Yorro Baldeh, Borry Dampha, and Sutay Saidy village Heads (Alkalos) of Sitahuma, Japineh Temanto and Buiba Mandinka respectively, all used the occasion to thank to NCCE in their efforts to educate the citizenry on their rights, duties and responsibilities. They suggest similar programmes to be conducted at regular basis so as to help the citizenry to be aware of the language of the Constitution and other laws of the Gambia.
Muhamed Darboe of Buiba Mandinka and Salif Dem of Sitahuma expressed similar remarks.
The sensitisation meeting was attended by a cross section of these communities.