December 16, 2016 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
The Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) has urged the government of Sierra Leone to act speedily on the final draft report of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) to the exclusion of any other ‘extraneous’ materials that would delay the process.
Speaking at a presser held at their Upper Brook Street office, Moses Massa, Access to Justice Coordinator, who read a press statement from the organisation, said attempt by the ruling All Peoples Congress and some seven political parties to make additional recommendations to the final report would amount to re-opening fresh submission, which would undermine the entire process.
He noted that annexing the recommendations to the final report would be a cause for ‘unnecessary controversy’ with a potential to undermine the process and a recipe of overturning the views of the people.
“CARL urged the government to expedite the constitutional review process and reject any additional report that would not be the views of the people. We are of the firm conviction that it was the views of the people that were factored in the final report and any attempt to make addition is like overturning the views of the people, which will undermine our democratic processes,” said Massa.
According to him, the country deserves a progressive constitution that would help to strengthen democracy, rule of law and human rights. He said they have contributed to the process of making a new constitution by sharing their thoughts in writing and oral submission through nationwide public consultation. He said the views that have been finalised and endorsed without reservation by the majority of the committee members must be respected.
The group noted that they acknowledged the concerns of the government although it was obvious that raising such concerns at the end of the process potentially undermines the smooth conclusion of the review process.
“The views of a political party or a collection of parties may be important, but they are no more relevant than the collective views expressed by the public during the public consultation and validation stages. The governing party’s addendum should carry no weight unless it receives the same level of scrutiny as those in the final report,” said CARL’s Executive Director, Ibrahim Tommy.
However, CARL commended the government for empanelling the 80-man CRC, chaired by respected retired judge and current ombudsman, Justice Edmond K. Cowan. The process was in fulfilment with one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report.