From February 4 – 6, 2020, ICNL’s Sub-Saharan Africa team facilitated a three-day consultative meeting in Banjul-The Gambia to discuss the country’s new NGO bill. Participants discussed how the bill can be improved by bringing its provisions in line with existing international and regional standards, as well as best practices on freedom of association. During the meeting, they reviewed different provisions in the proposed bill and assessed the extent to which they align with these standards and best practices. They formulated several amendment recommendations that will be presented to a validation meeting, which will include about 50 CSO delegates, to be convened in the coming weeks. They also brainstormed key steps and substantive elements that need to be taken into account for The Gambia to formulate a decent National NGO Policy, drawing inspiration from a few good examples of similar policies in Africa that ICNL has reviewed or provided technical assistance on.
The consultative meeting was held in coordination with the Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (TANGO) and the Gambian NGO Affairs Agency. It brought together more than 25 participants, including representatives of key civil society organizations working on civic space issues. Several government officials representing the Ministry of Lands, Regional Development and Religious Affairs (which drafted the bill), the Ministry of Justice (in charge of reviewing the bill), and the NGO Affairs Agency (the country’s NGO regulatory body) also attended.