Tuesday, 6 November 2018
‘‘Should We Continue To Have Ghost Commission of Enquires’’?
Readers could recall that 3 people have been confirmed dead and several others injured in a clash between residents of Faraba Banta who were expressing their constitutional rights as guaranteed by Section 25 (1) A, B and D respectively of the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia and the members of the Police Intervention Unit (PIU).
Sources highlighted that the incident happened after Police opened fire on a crowd of unarmed protesters who were concerned about sand mining activities by Julakay Engineering and Construction Company in their community. It was described that the mining company was granted licenses to operate closer to their rice fields which they perceived to be counterproductive not only to crop production but also exposed them to environmental dangers. Besides, in a Democratic State, the Police is to protect, serve and to deliver criminals into the hands of the law who threaten the livelihood, property and peace of other sovereign citizens as in Section 178 (2)
It is on record that Section 200 (1) of the 1997 Constitution empowers the President to constitute a Commission of Inquiry and appoint one or more Commissioners to make inquiry for the public good. The National Assembly may also request the President to establish a Commission of Inquiry if need be.
Furthermore, Section 202 (1) empowers a Commission of Inquiry to:
“(a) Make a full and impartial investigation into the matter in respect of which the Commission is established; and
(b) Furnish in writing a report on the results of the inquiry, including a statement of the reasons leading to the conclusions of the Commission.”
Additionally, Section 203 highlighted that “On receipt of the report of a Commission of Inquiry –
(a) The President shall within six months publish the report and his or her comments on the report, together with a statement of any action taken, or the reason for not taking action.
‘‘The last time I checked a commission was set to investigate Faraba killings and ultimate one month duration was given to the said commission to tender its report. Unfortunately, the outcome of the report still remains the question of the day’’. Commissions report findings, give advice and make recommendations. While their findings are not legally binding, they can be highly influential in the decision-making process for a better nation we all want to see and live in.
Since Commissions of inquiry are independent of the government. They must act strictly within their terms of reference and ensure their processes are within the law. If the government establishes a commission of inquiry one expects that it would act in accordance with its recommendations, publish the findings so that those involved would be able to have a conclusion.