By Fatou Dahaba
Members of the National Assembly have rejected the Judicial Remuneration and Other Entitlement Bill 2023 brought by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dawda Jallow, at its second reading in the parliament.
18 National Assembly Members supported the bill at the committee stage, while 23 other members voted against it, killing it at its second reading.
During the debate, most of the National Assembly Members (NAM) called for the total rejection of the judicial remuneration bill, debated among parliamentarians, describing it as a betrayal and taking advantage of the ordinary Gambian people.
On Monday, September 4th, 2023, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice tabled the bill to introduce changes to judicial officials’ service conditions. The bill included remuneration of pension, allowances, vehicles, accommodation, and payment of spouses of judges who died in office. The Attorney General and Minister of Justice plead with the members of parliament to pass the bill, noting the Judiciary is the only arm of government that does not have an act of parliament.
Almameh Gibba, NAM for Foni Kansala, said if they accept this bill, how about the teachers and nurses who are the most deserving but working in poor working conditions?
He said accepting the bill would mean telling all other sectors to come up with such bills, which the country’s economy is unprepared for. He rejected the bill and urged his colleague lawmakers to throw it out.
“This bill is not friendly to the Gambia people, so let us not waste our time. Let’s reject and bury it 40 feet down, and we must use our time wisely. We have to be honest.”
The Foni Kansala NAM said the Justice Minister should prioritize civil service reforms instead of backing a bill that will only benefit a few. He also argued that the bill is discriminatory because other staff of the Judiciary are not entitled to the same benefits as judges.
Hon. Fatou Cham, NAM for Sanentereng, said after consultation with her people that she could not accept the bill. She suggested they refer the Minister to consult his drafters and develop a better bill.
Hon. Alagie Mbowe, the Upper Saloum NAM, said that the bill is one of the reasons he rejected the draft constitution and, therefore, cannot accept the bill.
He said the bill itself is discriminatory to certain members of the judicial as the magistrate and cadis are not entitled to vehicles, unlike judges.
Hon. Kebba Lang Fofana, Nominated Member, said the assembly should give a second thought to the bill because quality work comes with incentives.
He added that the bill’s primary motive is to give the Judiciary officials security while they work.
‘Rejecting the bill will not be good because we can scrutinize thoroughly and remove anything we feel should not be there, but first let’s allow it to pass to committee stage and then sanitize it,” He said.
Other National Assembly Members such as Hon. Lamin Ceesay of Kiang West, Hon. Kebba K. Barrow of Kombo South, Hon. Yaya Sanyang, and Hon. Sulayman Saho, among others, all debated on the judicial remuneration bill and called for the sanitation of bill.