The National Assembly of the Republic of The Gambia, on Friday 2nd April 2020, adopted a motion for the Extension of the State of Public Emergency for a month and fifteen days (45days) effective 3rd April 2020.
The Motion for the Extension came after President Adama Barrow, made a proclamation, published in the Gazette the on 28th March 2020.
The extension of the State of Emergency is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Gambia, after the Health Minister announced the first confirmed case in the Gambia on the 16th April 2020.
The Gambia's Justice Minister, Abubacarr Tambadou, on Thursday 2nd April 2020, appeared before the Lawmakers and tabled the Motion for the Extension of the State of Public Emergency for 90 days in the Gambia.
Justice Tambadou while moving the motion for extension, said the extension, will help strengthen social distancing as well as enable the government to make proper planning and organization for the implementation of the immediate, medium and long term preventive and precautionary measures.
This motion later set the stage for a heated debate in the Legislative House, between Member for Serrekunda Halifa Sallah and the Justice Minister.
Sallah said the objective of his motion, was to see whether the law was complied with in making the Presidential proclamations, whether the proclamations were published in the Gazette, and whether the contents were reasonable and justifiable in a democratic society.
Sallah moved a motion for the National Assembly to refer and commit the extension motion to the Human Rights and Constitutional Matters Committee of the Legislature.
36 deputies voted for Sallah's motion, thus the motion for the extension of public emergency to 90 days, was referred and committed to the Human Rights Committee.
The Human Rights Committee, held an emergency engagement with the Justice Ministry on 2nd of April 2020 on the Extension Motion at the Legislative, for proper and thorough scrutiny and consideration of the extension.
Suwaibou Touray, the Vice Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee, tabling the report at the plenary on Thursday 3rd April 2020, reported that the Committee during discussion with the Ministers, made among other recommendations that the 90 days be reduced to 45 days, and for the Justice Ministry to work with line Ministries such as Health, Trade and Transport, to come up with a compensatory mechanism, so as to provide relief for the most vulnerable during the times of restriction.
Barely after 14 hours of heated debate on the Committee's Report, Members agreed to extend the period to 45 days, noting that the subsidiary legislations imposed restrictions on the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedom, and that the Finance Minister confirmed to the deputies that, at the time of the debate, there was no compensatory mechanism, but they will be looking into the issue.
This according to the lawmakers, indicates that the welfare of the people during the State of Emergency is not guaranteed and as such 90 days might impact adversely on the lives and livelihoods of the citizenry.
Thus the National Assembly adopted 45 days for the extension effective 3rd April 2020, which ushered in the Gambia into one month and fifteen days of State of Public Emergency, with the ultimate aim of preventing the further spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Follow Foroyaa Newspaper for the interventions of the Lawmakers on the Extension Motion in subsequent editions.
Legislative Sittings continue on Monday 6th April 2020 at 10:00am prompt