Parliament thrown into chaos after pages on a critical bill on NPS ‘disappeared’

Parliament thrown into chaos after pages on a critical bill on NPS ‘disappeared’
Chaos, laughter and confusion rocked Parliament when a committee was told that some pages on a critical bill ‘disappeared’.

A sitting of a committee of parliament was thrown into chaos after MPs discovered that some pages of a bill that was brought before them for debate grew legs.  

The important chapter of the bill had recommended disciplinary action to be taken on member of the board National police service found to have abused their powers.

But a late evening sitting was thrown into light laughter when MPs at the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) learnt that a joint report on a bill of the National Prison Service Act, were plucked off by unknown people working in Parliament.

Gen. Simon Kun Puoch, chair of the committee on National Security and Public Order, had just read the bill [second reading] in front of the assembly only for members to learn some pages on chapter six of the document had been removed.

The pages spelt out the penalties for offenses committed by national prison service personnel.

“No reason was given by NCAC and this [Chapter VI – about the staff disciplinary boards], has completely disappeared,” he stated.

Albino Akol, a member of the Other Political Parties (OPP) and the deputy chairperson of the specialized committee on agriculture and food security, argued that the NCAC should be consulted to get clarification on the chapter.

“Instead of the committee saying that NCAC did not give clarification, I want to say that the committee is supposed to seek clarification from NCAC because we believe in the NCAC. All of us participated in that committee. What they [committee] did was in consultation with the agreement and all the existing laws,” Albino urged.

Joy Kwaje argued that a chapter must be made available to the assembly so that the members can discuss it and understand what it contains.

 “To say it has disappeared, what does it mean and what does the committee think?

“If it is with the NCAC, it must be included; otherwise, we will not continue to pass this without the entire chapter that establishes the disciplinary board.

“My opinion here is that before we pass this document, we demand that it be clarified by the committee whether this particular chapter disappeared and therefore we don’t need it in the law. If it is not going to appear in the law, we want to know what is appearing in the law,” said Kwaje.

After thoughtful consideration of the report, the assembly members involved in the discussions recommended that the bill be sent back to the committees so they could consult with the NCAC about why that particular provision was removed.

Following the conclusion of the discussion, John Agany, the chair of the Information Committee, asserted that the chapter was crucial and that if it were not included in the Act, it would fail to hold prison officers accountable for any improper behavior while performing their duties.

He stated that the committees could consult with NCAC and report back to the assembly in a week so that it could be discussed and the necessary changes could be made.

The amendment bill was intended to amend the former Southern Sudan Prison Service Act, 2011 while the committees were tasked with amending, deleting, substituting, reorganizing, and adding to create a new chapter, section, sub-section, paragraph, expression, or word into the main Act.