June 10, 2015 By Mohamed Faray Kargb
A 5-man delegation from the United Nations yesterday paid a courtesy call on the Chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), Justice Edmond Cowan, at his Miatta Conference Centre office in Freetown.
In his opening statement, the Chief Technical Adviser (CTA) to the CRC, Sanauallah Baloch, stated that the Sierra Leone constitutional review process was launched in July 2013 to review the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No. 6 of 1991.
Welcoming the delegation, Justice Cowan expressed the committee’s appreciation of their visit and hoped that they enjoyed their short stay in the country albeit the presence of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
He said the committee has made considerable progress in reviewing the country’s 1991 Constitution although the Ebola Virus Disease affected the process leading to a year’s extension to 2016.
The CRC boss intimated that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been very supportive of the process, noting that their invaluable contribution to the exercise was commendable.
Various questions were asked by the visiting team including the contribution of the constitutional review to the peace process of Sierra Leone, the sincerity of the government in reviewing the constitution; whether the review process would not affect the next general elections, the role of women in the process, the participation of the uneducated and less privileged, among other questions.
Chairman Cowan, in his response, stated that the review of the country’s constitution was necessitated partly due to recommendations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report.
On the sincerity of the government in the review process, Justice Cowan said the government didn’t select the representatives on the CRC and that there were 80 members representing various interest groups.
On the issue of whether the CR process would affect the coming elections, he stressed that “the constitution has not been suspended, so its review has nothing to do with the coming elections”.
He further informed the delegation that institutions chose people to represent them on the committee, hence the low representation of women must be blamed on institutions that selected men to represent them instead of women.
He revealed that the CRC has done its best to ensure that the uneducated and less privileged were fully involved in the process by the use of various media.
The UN visiting team thanked the CRC Chairman, the CTA and Executive Secretary and assured that they would continue to follow the review process in Sierra Leone to its end.