By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) has pleaded with the nation’s youths to look at the constitution currently being reviewed holistically rather than just confining themselves to issues affecting them.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day forum organized by the National Youth Commission with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on youth engagement in the constitutional review process at the Atlantic Hall of the National Stadium yesterday, Justice Edmond Cowan stated that the constitution is an important document because “it is the source of all laws”.
According to him, if youths pay attention only to issues affecting them, it will affect them in time to come because “it will take a long time before the constitution is reviewed again”.
While stating that Section 108 of the 1991 Constitution gives the people the power to reject or accept the document after it has been reviewed, Justice Cowan urged participants to look at the constitution with a critical eye as the review process is a national exercise and “not a political party business”.
“I am pleading with you to look at the document holistically and be mindful of issues affecting you. We are all individuals in this process and we are doing it as a national issue,” said the CRC chairman who doubles as National Ombudsman. “The review is a process and not a one-off thing, and failure to get it right will plunge this nation into disrepute.”
Giving an overview of the forum, Youth Commissioner Anthony A. Koroma explained that the decision to engage the youths was borne out of the fact that in the deliberations of the CRC, youth voices are yet to match those of other stakeholders like paramount chiefs and political party leaders, and that the review process appears to be very general instead of providing space for issues.
The objectives of the forum, he stated, are to fulfill the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report by accommodating the voices of the youths as well as getting their views and aspirations captured in the review process.
Commissioner Koroma urged participants to make good use of the opportunity accorded them by making sure that their views and concerns are reflected in the entire process.
Statement was also made by the UNDP Country Director, Sudipto Mukerjee.