21 C
Sierra Leone
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
spot_img

LAW REGULATES SOCIETY & SETS STANDARDS BY WHICH THE RIGHTS OF EVERYONE…

OCTOBER 21, 2014 By: Bankole Clifford Ekundayo Morgan- Human Rights Advocate

Generally, laws have been known to exist and the essence for that is to regulate human behaviour. Law regulates society and sets standards by which the rights of every individual or creature, their person or property are respected and protected. Sierra Leone as a state is a member of the world community and being such must be governed by certain rules which ensure that society operates regularly like other members of the global community. From that we observe that the law itself forms a social instrument which acts as a lubricating oil for the efficiency of society.

THE GOAL OF A PARLIAMENTARIAN SHOULD BE CONSTRUCTIVE DEVELOPMENT

One outstanding attribute of a good Parliamentarian should be purpose driving toward constructive development in the constituency he/she represents. Additionally, a good Parliamentarian should be God-fearing and makes laws that promote good governance, rule of law, democracy and human rights. It is a plain truth that when a parliamentarian works contrary to constructive development in the constituency he/she represents, that member is working against the general will and interest of the people who voted him/her into Parliament.

Ideally, selection of Members of Parliament should be done by the popular will of members of the constituency he/she seeks to represent. But we have observed that becoming a Parliamentarian has now been influenced by party politics. This is absolutely condemned as in most cases the wrong person has been selected by selfish party officials rather than by the popular choice and will of the members of that constituency.

THE CONSTITUTION OF SIERRA LEONE, 1991 PROVIDES THAT…

Chapter VI Part V of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991 provides that Parliament is the supreme legislative authority. For public education, it is important to have some knowledge on how a Bill becomes law in Sierra Leone.

Bills become law according to our legal framework once they are enacted by Parliament and signed by the President. Though, legally the Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991 also makes provision in the event where the President refuses to sign a bill, it can become a law after going through other parliamentary procedures as provided for in the same Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991.

THE LAW MAKING ROLE OF PARLIAMENT

The Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991 determines the lawmaking role of Parliament, and the standing orders lay out the internal process within Parliament. Parliamentarians are responsible for enacting laws to ensure that the country’s democracy, good governance, rule of law and human rights operate openly and freely. Laws are meant to address the country’s problems and should provide for the best possible quality of life for the people. In Sierra Leone, Members of Parliament can exercise their legislative powers through the following:

  • Introduce legislation which may be a private member bill to address specific issue;
  • Review, debate, and amend government bills presented by the Executive branch and introduced for debate by the majority caucus.

PROCESS THROUGH WHICH A BILL FOR AN ACT OF PARLIAMENT HAS TO GO

According to procedural due process of the law, there is a standard set through which a bill for an Act of Parliament has to go before it becomes a law. Procedurally, a law begins as a Bill. A bill is a proposal for an Act of Parliament. It can also be seen as a proposal for a law. The bill can be a new one, which at that point may introduce an idea not yet covered by existing law. A bill can also be an amendment to an existing law, and it can be done due to changes in government policies and or in the society in general.

It is accepted in the Parliament of Sierra Leone that any citizen of Sierra Leone can suggest a bill. However, only Members of Parliament or Government Ministers can formally introduce a bill in Parliament. When a bill is introduced from a Minister in the executive arm of government, it is called a Government Bill. In other words, any bill that is introduced by a Minister in Parliament can be referred to as a Government Bill. When a bill is introduced from a Member of Parliament in the legislative arm, it is called a Private Member Bill. In other words a Private Member Bill is a bill introduced from a Member of Parliament in the legislative arm.

WHAT MAKES UP A BILL

The following makes up a bill:

Title – the heading of the bill that states the particular issue or area it addresses. It should clearly state the subject matter of the bill.

Preamble – the introductory language describing the reasons for and intent of a bill, sometimes called a ‘whereas’ clause.

Clause – a special and separate provision in a bill or law, such as an enacting clause or resolving clause. It is also the first subdivision of a standing rule: for example, Rule 1, clause 1. A clause can also be a second subdivision of the Constitution.

Amendment – a formal proposal to alter the text of a bill or resolution. An amendment may strike out (eliminate) part of a text and or insert new text. Amendments are voted on in the same manner as bill or other motions.

Schedule – the structure and organization of a bill.

STAGES OF A BILL

In Sierra Leone there are seven stages that a bill must go through and each of these is very much significant in the process of a bill becoming a law. The following are the seven stages of a bill:

Stage One: Notice Regarding Bills,

Stage Two: Introduction and First Reading,

Stage Three: Seconding Reading,

Stage Four: Committal of Bill,

Stage Five: Third Reading,

Stage Six: President’s Assent,

Stage Seven: Publication in the Gazette.

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF SIERRA LEONE’S PARLIAMENT IN THE DRIVE TO DEMOCRACY

The work of Parliament all over the world is primarily to make laws for the State. The role of Sierra Leone’s Parliament is very significant towards the promotion of good governance, rule of law, human rights and democracy. Parliament is the legislative branch of government. It is obvious as in the case with every legislature globally, Sierra Leone’s Parliament is one institution where the needs and interests of citizens are expressed and addressed through constructive debate on public policy. It provides a unique opportunity for the voices of Sierra Leoneans, particularly those most affected by government policies, to be heard in the policy making process. Parliament is therefore key to reinforcing democracy and making public policies effective.

FUNCTIONS EXPECTED TO BE FULFILLED BY PARLIAMENT

  1. Quality representation of citizens: Parliament should bring the needs, goals, problems and concerns of citizens to the policy making process;
  2. Make laws: Parliament should make laws that promote good governance, democracy, human rights and rule of law;
  3. Exercise oversight: Parliament should ensure that laws enacted are implemented effectively according to the original intent and within the parameters of the rule of law.

MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT ARE BY LAW REPRESENTATIVES OF THEIR PEOPLE

Part IV Section 97 subsection (b) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991 provides that “all Members of Parliament shall regard themselves as representatives of the people of Sierra Leone and desist from any conduct by which they seek improperly to enrich themselves or alienate themselves from the people”.

EFFECTIVE CONSTITUENCY RELATION BETWEEN MPs AND CONSTITUENCIES

Members of Parliament have the responsibility to inform citizens about legislative actions, ensuring that citizen voices are reflected in budgets and public policy and assisting constituents to gain access to governmental services. Members of Parliament help improve constituency relations by making regular visits to constituencies, particularly while Parliament is on recess and in some cases establishing offices in their constituencies, but I wonder how many Parliamentarians have established offices in their constituencies.

However, I have observed that there is a gap between most Members of Parliament and the people who they represent. This selfish attitude is imbedded in some politicians who always come around people when election is fast approaching and after which they disappear ungratefully. A Parliamentarian who regularly contacts and or visits his/her constituency can easily identify challenges of that constituency. They can be better placed to make input on policy debates and this will create the conducive environment for information sharing that could make government more accountable to the people.

Related Articles

Latest Articles