‘CSOs are the Watchdogs of Democracy’

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An Executive of the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) on Friday, December 6, disclosed that one of the major roles of Civil Society Organization’s (CSOs) is to serve as a “watchdogs” (maintain surveillance over a person, activity, or situation) set-up to monitor developmental initiatives and the status of democracy.

Mr. Soko V. Sackor, who is CRC’s sub-committee chair on civil society, made the assertion on Friday, at the opening of a three-day consultation forum with CSOs.

The forum was held at the administrative building in Kakata City, Margibi County.

It was intended to integrate the CSO’s views into the general views already gathered by CRC from the general citizenry.

The forum also hopes to continue reminding CSOs about their role in the review process.

“CSO’s,” the CRC executive noted, “Are usually vocal. We want to encourage you to continue to be vocal on issues of democracy.”

“This government has been very charitable in encouraging CSOs. You have been engaging in legislative activities like helping to draft laws, while urging the government to adopt certain policies. Opportunities such as this forum are in continuation of that relationship,” Mr. Sackor noted.  

He explained, “As continue to create the environment to permit CSO participation in the 1986 constitution review process, I would like to encourage you to work with us to tackle this great task that has been assigned to your organizations.” 

“What do we want to achieve with these objectives?” Mr. Sackor asked.

“Simply for all of us to have an improved understanding of several constitutional issues that would be raised,” answered Mr. Sackor.

“I am know that significant work has been done with CSOs concerning provisions within the 1986 constitution,” he said, adding, “I am a witness to the success of this collaboration, therefore, the CRC’s  active engagement with CSOs is not only appropriate but one that will make our job more effective.” 

Mr. Sackor explained that CRC’s approach to constitution review is bottom-up. “We get views from the general public and then formulate the constitutional issues.”

He said it is to ensure that all views from the various sectors of society are expressed to the CRC.

“We have brought together both mutual benefit organizations and public benefit organizations,” he added.

“Mutual benefit organizations,” Mr. Sackor explained “are organizations whose purpose it is to assist their own members.”

“Public benefit organizations’ main purpose is to help specifically identified groups of people and the general population. The direct or indirect beneficiaries of these organizations are not their members. They are not necessarily accountable to those that they plan to help.”

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