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Sierra Leone’s constitutional review is not transparent, ‘fatally flawed” says Dr Omodele Jones

 

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As he tenders his resignation from Sierra Leone’s constitutional review committee Dr. Omodele Jones speaking to Awoko says that the process is “fatally flawed”. The constitutional review committee was set up last year and launched by the President of Sierra Leone in July 2013.

The committee was supposed to make recommendations to the government, and the government was supposed to submit the report, and changes to parliament for approval. At this point if parliament approved the changes, they were then “to be put into a referendum for the people to decide the fate of the proposed covenant.”

However, Dr. Jones says that this is not what has happened. The government has made changes to the constitution although the committee has yet to make any recommendations or completed its review.

“I have found out just when the committee has started it work, that the government and Parliament rushed through to make an amendment on the constitution without consulting the committee or writing to state why they were doing it,” he said.

Dr. Jones says that he has resigned because he has lost faith in the process. He says the Sierra Leonean people will gain little if anything at all from a constitutional review that now lacks transparency, and trustworthiness.

Source: Awoko

 

3 comments

  1. We must seriously consider what laws we pass and how we tinker with the Constitution as it may come to hunt us in the future. Every Government should treat that instrument as sacrosanct it is in effect the bill of rights that protects the rights of the ordinary citizens. This debate should have been held by the legal profession and if need be challenges made in the courts to test the veracity of the issue. What unfortunately exists is a somewhat collegial atmosphere in our society that tolerates all sorts of behavior without questioning. In a healthy and progressive Democracy it is good to have arguments and discussions that allows laws to evolve. The country needs to educate the future leaders as to the necessity for arguments and public examination of issues. We are stuck with this notion that if I dissent with you I am your enemy. All progressive society must tolerate dissenters and mavericks. The Parliament is an arena where there should be fierce and vibrant arguments in the course of which good laws emerge. This begs the question as to how the members of parliament consider themselves as guardians of the peoples rights or to follow the wishes of the vociferous minority. I wish we will have a system of advocacy where the Government have to advocate its case publicly both in Parlaiment, in the media and in the courts where serious and significant changes are proposed.
    An effective administration is so because its opposition is more effective. The opposition must realise that they are the keepers of the peoples conscience and the courts the guardians of the status quo – peaceful co-existence and individual liberties.
    Though I am disagree with what you say but I will defend your right to say it.
    Where the third estate is failing is in the sphere of taking on and examining serious issues on a non partisan basis. It seems that Newspapers in Sierra Leone have to be tethered to a stable – We have had periods in Sierra Leone where we had Newspapers that were fiercely independent and there was a phrase once coined by one of the papers – So says the law and so is the constitution it cannot be denied neither can it be changed ………….well we must rekindle our traditions of independence and free thinking to progress, in the agenda for change or prosperity. We are not always right but if we listen enough to the opposition we can learn more and be wiser, they also have a stake to seek progress.

    • It is very unfortunate for Dr. Jones Comments on the Constitutional review (Fatally Flawed). Sierra Leonean we must learn to respect the views of others even if its against your hidden agenda. Dr. Jones has been my invisible Icon with impeccable passion to drive an ideology that has the vision for a better Sierra Leone. Con-federalism a very good concept that does not have a pace in a country that is divided with selfish politicians and tribal thinking.
      Apparently, though, i consider the statement of Dr. Jones as unfortunate and untimely for the review process. He should have exercise some patience to see through what he can contribute in making a very good constitution for Sierra Leone, but resigning at this evolution period of the process for reasons, which he himself has argued in one of the committee meeting that though the review process is on going but the constitution is not suspended and constitution committee as at now are not working in parallel line as he may think. They have different mandate. The parliament is empowered the constitution to formulate laws, while on the other hand the CRC has a mandate of revising the constitution.
      Its actually conflicting to some point because should the parliament continues to change laws throughout the period of the constitution review process, then the it would definitely affect the process.
      We should not run away from our responsibility rather contest against the wrong to make it right. Dr. Jones re-think his position (resignation) not necessarily withdraw his resignation but your thought of contributing to the process.

  2. I agree with Mans-Davies, our society needs contriarians and nuisances, mavericks and principled individuals who stay and fight within. It is always a pleasure to have your name listed as the one who dissented and be proved by history to have been the lone voice in the wilderness.
    Sadly our society has not many stoical vertebrates who stand against the tide. I am sure he was deliberately appointed to this committee because of that trait in his character – we have now lost both is presence and his contribution. Can you reverse your stance and go and say you tried whilst we deliberated I fought fierce battles. This is why I like the British and American system of enquiry it is not collegial, you have mavericks and strong willed stubborn individuals whose sole purpose is to have their voice and opinions heard – Governments do listen. Battle like adversaries and retire to regal each others after labor.