From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

The Governance Stakeholders Coordination Forum Presents Position Paper To The Constitutional Review Committee
By Awareness Times
Aug 20, 2015, 17:00

The Governance stakeholders Coordination Forum (GSCF) a group of International Non Government Organizations,National Non Governmental Organizations and Civil Society Organizations, comprising OXFAM, Action Aid International Sierra Leone, Christian Aid, Trocaire, Campaign for Good Governance (CGG), Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD), IBIS and Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) has presented a position paper to the Constitutional Review Committee on the current 1991 constitution under review.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Konima Bobor Kamara, National Advocacy and Campaigns Officer at OXFAM in Sierra Leone gave a brief background of the GSCF.  She said the GSCF was formed in 2009 by a group of INGO’s, Civil Society Organizations and National NGO’s with the aim of promoting transparency, democracy, human rights and good governance in Sierra Leone.

Konima Bobor Kamara, OXFAM’s National Advocacy and Campaigns Officer presenting the position paper to Edmond Cowan, Chairperson of the CRC

In her presentation, consultant and legal practitioner who did the research, Yasmine Jusu Sheriff encouraged the Commission to make good use of the document as there are important areas that need to be considered in the current constitutional review. She highlighted parts of the Constitution which she thought were of relevance to be reviewed. She noted chapter 2 which talks about Accountability for and ‘Justiciability’ of the Principles of state policy, Inadequate protection of human rights and gender equality, Entrenchment of the decentralization process, Separation of powers between the Judiciary and the Executive, Excessive powers of the Executive President, Transparency and accountability in relation to presidential appointments and sovereign   agreements, Media Freedom and effective laws on issues of State of Emergency. She called on the commission to give serious considerations to these areas and even referred the Commission to the Constitutions of Kenya and Ghana where she thought these laws are adequately addressed.

Legal Consultant, Yasmine Jusu Sheriff making her presentation to the Constitutional Review Committee

In her presentation, the Advocacy and Campaigns Manager Action Aid Sierra Leone, on behalf of her colleagues in the GSCF, thanked the Commission for the opportunity given to the group to take part in the review process. Aminata Kellie Lamin called on the CRC to include effective Land laws in the constitution that will be of benefit to the citizens, effective Labour laws and protection, Decentralization of state recourses, effective management of natural resources, and enhancement of effective laws that will empower women. She called on the Committee not to allow the Second Chamber as part of the new constitution as this will make the men more powerful and suppress the women.

Receiving the report from the GSCF on behalf of the Constitutional Review Committee, the Chairperson of the Commission, Justice Edmond Cowan thanked the group for the brilliant presentation and confessed that they were impressed with the ideas put together by the group. He expressed his admiration for a group of INGO’s and NGO’s coming together to be part of the review process. Justice Cowan however said that the report represents the view of so many Sierra Leoneans which makes it worthy to be thoroughly looked at. He lamented on the lack of implementation of laws in the country noting that the country has effective laws that are poorly implemented; he encouraged the group to ensure that state laws are effectively implemented to the benefit of the people.

Justice Cowan assured the group that the document is of substantial importance to the Committee which has a detailed explanation that looks at the constitution holistically. He promised that the group’s proposal will be looked at bringing out the relevant points in it. Justice Cowan called on the public to participate in the review process referring it to as an opportunity that has never been given to the people of this country. He ended by calling on the group to continue monitoring and participating in the process until the final document is out and also ensure its full implementation.

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