2 January 2018

Gambia: 'We Should Not Be Looking At Cosmetic Name Changes'-Justice Minister

Justice Minister, Abubacarr Tambedou has told Lawmakers that the NIA is a Constitutional creation and that any change of name given, should conform to the Constitutional procedure for amendment and urged that we should not look at cosmetic name changes only. Mr Tambadou made this remark during the adjournment debate of Friday 29th December 2017, at the National Assembly.

"We should look at the laws establishing the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to ensure that their responsibility properly reflects the intelligence outfit. So we are in the process of reviewing that law in consultation with the National Intelligence Agency", he said. He further said they have had the first draft based on consultation with organizations outside the country and shared their suggestions with them; that they are now looking at those suggestions and comments, to make sure that the name is not only changed but their functions and responsibilities too.

On the sale of cattle, he said Section 202 of the Constitution empowers the Commission of Enquiry, established by the president under Section 200, to issue interim orders which should not be arbitrary, but based on necessity among other things; that the decisions of the Commission that the Department of Livestock does not have the capacity to handle the number of cattle and the great risk of the cattle are dissipated as some are being unlawful slaughtered for food, stolen or dying, which if not handled will lead to a loss for both state and ex-president. "Because if the Commission comes back with recommendations that they rightfully belongs to him, they will or should be returned to him (former president), but if they die or dissipate, then of course he also loses when the decision is made", he explained.

He averred that when he received the letter from the Commission for the sale of the cattle, he engaged with the counsel to the Commission on the issue; that after their discussions, they agreed that while the Commission can exercise its jurisdiction to make interim orders in the abundance of caution, it may be better to approach the high court, which had given the original order of placing the cattle in the custody of the Department of Livestock.

"This does not mean that the Commission does not have the power. In the abundance of caution we thought it may be better to approach the High Court and as a result of this, the sale of the cattle that was planned on Sunday will be suspended, to approach the High Court which gave the legal custody to the Department of Livestock to allow the sale of the cattle on the same reason and basis, that the Commission has taken in their decision", he pointed out.

On the issue of the Public Order Act, Mr. Tambadou informed the Assembly that in light of the Supreme Court judgment on the Public Order Act, they are on the stage of reviewing the Act; that it is very difficult to balance Acts when dealing with fundamental Human Rights with limitations; that this requires the need to ensure enjoyment of rights and other public interest and matters that need to be taken into considerations.

"Our thinking at this point is to tilt the balance in favor of the enjoyment of these rights. How far we are going to do that will depend on the review we are conducting, but that is a matter we are considering at the moment ", he concluded.


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