Thursday, June 27, 2013

Gambia refuses to cooperate with USA in combating drug trafficking

In March, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)  says it will support illicit maritime activity in west and central Africa during a Ministerial meeting in Cotonou, Benin (Photo Credit: World Maritime News)

The Gambia’s National Assembly on Wednesday rejected a motion to ratify the agreement between The Gambia government and the United States of America concerning cooperation to suppress illicit transnational maritime activity.

According to the document of the agreement, the purpose of the proposed cooperation is to enable The Gambia government and that of the USA to more effectively suppress, combat and respond to illicit transnational maritime activity, including without limitation trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

The motion for the agreement was moved by the Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, Francis Laiti Mboge , for the National Assembly to consider and ratify. 

However, both sides of the Assembly rejected the motion saying the document of the agreement is “one-sided” and it is “not in favour” of The Gambia.

Majority Leader, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, said international treaties or agreements are usually concluded on the principle of international law of respect for sovereignty and equality of states.  

In this particular agreement, he claimed, there is no equality between The Gambia government and that of the USA.  

“To that extend, I opposed the ratification of this agreement. The document should be sent for possible amendment before ratification,” he suggested.

He noted that most of the articles in the agreement are one-sided, citing Article 6 which gives the US government the right to conduct operations to suppress illicit transnational maritime activities in Gambia’s internal waters or territorial sea.  

There is no such other article in the agreement that gives The Gambia government similar right to conduct such operations in the American waters, Jatta argued.

This is the “only document” that has come “into force” before parliamentary ratification, he added.  

Article 21 of the Agreement states: "This agreement shall come into force upon signature of both sides.” 

“The document was already signed before ratification, which is a contravention of the spirit of the Constitution and international best practices,” he said, urging his colleagues not to ratify the document.

The Minority Leader, Hon Samba Jallow said “The document is controversial so it should be rejected” – despite admitting never reading the agreement.

Member for Illisia Constituency, Hon.  Lamin K. Jammeh, also argued that most of the articles in the agreement are not in favour of the people of The Gambia.  He said therefore the National Assembly members should reject it outright.  

At the end of the debate, during which not even a single member expressed support for the ratification and adoption of the agreement, the cooperation agreement was rejected by the National Assembly Members.

The Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, Francis Laiti Mboge said the government will certainly revisit some of the controversial clauses in the agreement, as highlighted by the Members, and take it from there.

Written by Modou S. Joof
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