CIVIC EDUCATION | The Winners and Losers in The Draft Constitution - Facts over Myths


 

 

By Pa Louis Sambou

 

 

Public and Civil Servants

 

1997 Constitution  

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Draft Constitution  

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Allowed to have another job

 

 

 

Not Applicable 

 

Not allowed to have any other job

 

 

 

Draft Section 27(1) 

                      VERDICT =                             LOSERS 

 

Fundamental human rights  

 

1997 Constitution  

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Draft Constitution  

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Courts have no discretion on the application of international human rights law when interpreting Constitution  

 

 

 

 

 

Courts have option to disregard international human rights law when interpreting the Constitution  

 

Permitted under draft section 10(3) 

 

 

State can only restrict 5 fundamental rights  

 

Right to Life  (section 18(1)) 

 

 

Right to Personal Liberty  

(section 19(1)) 

 

 

Protection from Deprivation of Property  

(section 22(2)) 

 

 

Freedom of Speech, Assembly Etc. (section 25(4)) 

 

 

Freedom of the Media, Press  

(section 209) 

 

 

State can restrict 30 out of the 33 fundamental 

rights  

 

Permitted under draft section 36 

 

State actors do not have a discretion to deny a citizen employment on grounds of religion  

 

 

 

State actors do have a discretion to deny a citizen employment etc. on grounds of religion  

 

 

Permitted under draft section 49(3) 

                            VERDICT =                             LOSERS 
 

 

 

The Gambia Diaspora  

 

1997 Constitution 

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Draft Constitution 

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State cannot pass law to restrict right to vote and contest public office 

 

Section 39(1) guarantees unconditional franchise 

 

State can pass law to restrict right to vote and contest public office e.g. deny Diaspora the vote 

 

Draft section 36 allows State to restrict political rights at draft section 53  

 

Can contest the Presidency, National Assembly and be appointed as Vice President if they give up other Nationalities 

 

 

Sections 62(2) and 90(1)(a) 

 

Cannot contest the Presidency or be appointed Vice President even if they give up other Nationalities 

 

Section 94(1)(a)  

 

No express mandate for Diaspora to exercise franchise in Diaspora and have Legislative representation 

 

 

Only general franchise under section 39  

 

No express mandate for Diaspora to exercise franchise in Diaspora and have Legislative representation 

 

Only general franchise under draft section 53 

                            VERDICT =                             LOSERS 
 

 

Youths, Women, Children and the Disabled (Differently-Abled) 

 

1997 Constitution  

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Draft Constitution  

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No fundamental human rights specific to the youths but no power given to the State to restrict any civil liberties enjoyed by the youths 

 

 

 

Rights of the Youths specified at draft section 64 but which can be restricted by the state. 

 

 

 

Draft sections 64 and 36 

 

Rights of women specified at section 28 but which cannot be restricted by the state. 

 

 

 

Section 28 

 

Rights of women specified at draft section 55 but which can be restricted by the state under draft section 36. 

 

 

 

Draft sections 36 and 55  

 

Rights of children specified at section 29 but which cannot be restricted by the state. 

 

 

 

Section 29 

 

 

Rights of children specified at draft section 56 but which can be restricted by the state under draft section 36. 

 

 

 

Draft sections 36 and 56 

 

 

Rights of the disabled specified at section 31 but which cannot be restricted by the state. 

 

 

 

Section 31 

 

 

Rights of people with disabilities specified at draft section 58 but which can be restricted by the state under draft section 36. 

 

 

 

Draft sections 36 and 58 

 

                        VERDICT =                             LOSERS 
 

 

National Assembly Members 

 

1997 Constitution  

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Draft Constitution  

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National Assembly can legislate as they see fit on matters of budget appropriation  

 

 

 

Sections 151 - 153 

 

National Assembly’s power to legislate on matters of budget appropriation restricted (not permitted to reduce judiciary budget) 

 

 

 

Draft section 198(3) 

 

National Assembly can sit for the entirety of their elected tenure 

 

 

 

Section 99(1) 

 

Tenure of National Assembly reduced by 4 months at the financial expense of the Members and Staff 

 

 

 

Draft schedule 4 (8)(1)(a) 

 

Limited oversight powers over the Executive 

 

 

 

More oversight powers over the Executive 

 

                        VERDICT =                             LOSERS 
 

 

The President and Ministers 

 

1997 Constitution  

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Draft Constitution  

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Limited oversight powers by National Assembly 

 

 

 

Limited oversight powers by National Assembly 

 

 

No Term limits 

 

Section 63 

 

Two term limits maximum 

 

Draft section 102(2) 

 

 

 

No retroactive restriction  

 

 

Retroactive 2 term limit restriction  

 

Draft schedule 4(5)(1) 

 

                       VERDICT =                             Evens 
 

 

The Judges 

 

1997 Constitution  

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Draft Constitution  

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No special Constitutional Pension guarantees for judges 

 

 

 

Section 142 

 

Guaranteed and special pension package for judges to retire on their last salary 

 

 

 

Draft Section 195 

 

Option to retire at 65 years; 

 

 

To compulsorily retire at 70 years 

 

Section 141(2)(a) 

 

 

 

Section 141(2)(b) 

 

Option to retire at 65 years; 

 

 

To compulsorily retire at 75 years 

 

 

Draft section 193(1)(a) 

 

 

Draft section 193(1) (b) 

 

                       VERDICT =                             WINNERS 
 

 

Religious Freedom  

 

1997 Constitution  

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Draft Constitution  

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An Islamic State cannot emerge through an amendment of an unentrenched provision 

 

 

 

 

 

The jurisdiction of sharia can be expanded and / or the Common law jurisdiction shrunk or removed by amendment of draft section 10 by National Assembly without a referendum 

 

 

 

 

Draft section 10 and Chapter x, part iii 

 

No gateway for any citizen to be denied employment etc. On grounds of their religion 

 

 

 

State actors have discretion to deny citizens employment etc. On grounds of their religion 

 

 

Draft section 49(3) 


note the use of ‘may’ (discretionary) instead of ‘shall’ (mandatory)

 

Muslims have an option to choose between Cadi courts or the Common law family courts  

 

 

 

Section 137(4) 

 

The Sharia courts will have compulsory jurisdiction over all family law matters involving Muslims 

  

 

 

Draft section 188(1) 

 

Non-Muslims excluded from Shariah Jurisdiction 

 

 

 

Section 137(4) 

 

Non-Muslim spouses, children and dependents of a Muslim shall be under the jurisdiction of the Shariah Courts for all Family law matters 

 

 

 

Draft section 188(1) 

 

Judges sitting in the Common law courts mandated to have Common law competence before sitting in such court 

 

 

 

Section 139 

 

No requirement for Common law competence before one can be appointed a Judge in Common law courts 

 

 

Draft section 191 

                        VERDICT =                             LOSERS

 

 

Fight Against Corruption  

 

1997 Constitution  

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Draft Constitution  

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Special Criminal Court introduced to deal with financial corruption 

 

 

 

Section 135 

 

Proposes to scrap the Special Criminal Court which deals with financial corruption 

 

(also see CRC final report at para 473) 

 

 

Chapter x, part ii 

                        VERDICT =                             LOSERS

 

 

With knowledge of these facts, are you still in support of the Draft Constitution Against your own legitimate interest? 



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