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Sierrra Leone News: CRC presents Report

Justice Cowan handing report to president Koroma

Justice Cowan handing report to president Koroma

On Tuesday 24th January 2017, the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), led by Justice Edmond Cowan presented its report on the constitutional review process to President Ernest Bai Koroma.
This presentation came almost three years and six months after the launch of the review process in July 2013 and following the All People’s Congress’s rejection of the plenary of the review report late last year.
The mandate of the process was based on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report which came after the 11 years civil war and the provisions of the 1991 constitution which makes room for a review of the constitution when deemed necessary.
According to the Technical Advisor of the CRC, San Baloch, the 680 pages report presented to the president is divided into five parts with 18 chapters. “Part one runs from chapter 1-3 and it explains the process itself; part two consist of the main body of the report. It starts from chapter 4-17. Here there are 132 proposed amendments against the existing 1991 constitution.  In addition to that, 8 new chapters have been added to the proposed review constitution”, he explained.

Photo credit: State House

Photo credit: State House

Baloch added that “Part 3 is the summary of the recommendation; part 4 is the bibliography and detailed list of position papers submitted by different individuals, institutions, ministries and departments, and part 5 deals with acknowledgement and political parties comments.”
The advisor also disclosed that 3 million people were reached. The committee was able to engage 133 stakeholders in a meeting, 96 MDA’s were consulted, 80 Sierra Leonean experts involved, 125 position papers were submitted to the committee, added to a review of the 1991 constitution and the Peter Tucker’s report by the world top 60 lawyers.
Justice Cowan addressing the President and other dignitaries present in the conference room of State House in Freetown, with what sounded like a tearful voice said “your task was a hard one, needing resilience, commitment and dedication.”
He drew the president’s attention to his demand during the launch of the committee for them to consider inclusiveness, international best practice, women, youths and persons with disability.
“You told us about our laws, about the ambiguities in our laws and you admonished us to look into them. And to take steps to remedy those situations. You told us about what we have gone through as a nation… and because you did not want a repetition of such instances you told us to take into consideration the TRC report, our constitution or past constitutions, the Peter Tucker report and whatever document will assist us in that process.”
Justice Cowan said they took all those into consideration. He noted that they printed the constitution in braille for the blind, translated it into five local languages that are widely spoken, and documented it into films to help the deaf understand.
The President receiving the report applauded the committee and development partners for their work and contributions during the process. He said he has been following the process from a distance acknowledging that though it was a tough process, it was worth it.
The President further stated that he will quickly look into the report, come out with a white paper, and send it to parliament and his government together with all stakeholders would work hard to ensure that all those processes fall in place in a timely manner to meet the next election.
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Joseph F. Kamara also urged the cabinet to look at the report and quickly come out with a White Paper.
By Edna Smalle
Twitter @SmalleEdna
Wednesday January 25, 2017

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