Gambia: Human Rights Committee Recommends 45 Days Extension of State of Emergency

The Human Rights Committee of the National Assembly on recommended a 45-day Extension of the State of Emergency.

The Committee made this recommendation after they scrutinized the 90 day state of emergency motion, tabled by Justice Minister Tambedou on Thursday at the Assembly.

Tabling the report before the Legislature, Suwaibou Touray, member for Wuli East and Vice Chairperson of the Human Rights and Constitutional Matters Committee, said the subsidiary legislations referred to the committee are Restriction on Public Transport Emergency Powers Regulations 2020, Essential Commodities Emergency Powers Regulations 2020, Restriction on Open Markets and Shopping Areas Emergency Regulation 2020 and Closure and Restriction on Non-essential Public Emergency Powers Regulation 2020.

He said the legislators advanced concerns such as whether Presidential Proclamations followed the due process, proclamation and subsidiary legislations were published in a gazette, the 90-day extension is justifiable, restrictions imposed are reasonable and justifiable under a democratic society.

He said the committee noted inter alia that the 21-day proclamation implied that the National Assembly was not in season, and that the mentioned subsidiary legislations were published in the Gazette, each subsidiary legislations imposed restrictions on the enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms, but without compensation.

He said the committee is of the view that commercial businesses should not be totally banned, but only opening and closing times should be restricted.

He said: "There has been divergent views among deputies, but they finally agreed on recommending for 90 days. However, it is equally advised to take note of the seriousness of the pandemic".

He said the committee also recommended the deputies to approve the motion, but with reduction from 90 to 45 days and that the Justice Ministry to make reflection on some amendments in the regulations to better clarify the restrictions and provide definitions therein.

He said: "The Committee also recommends that the Finance, Health, Trade, Tourism, Transport, Interior Ministries, to work with Justice Ministry to come up with a compensatory mechanism to provide relief package to the most vulnerable during the times of restrictions. The committee also advised the Justice Ministry, to clarify the reason that led to the declaration of the second proclamation and the none applicability of the 21 days' duration of the first proclamation as the National Assembly was in session".

The report of the Committee on the Extension Motion, is currently undergoing debate and is yet to be adopted by the Lawmakers.

The report once adopted, will see the Gambia in a state of emergency for the next 45 days(equivalent to one month and fifteen days).

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