Following Sonko’s refusal to defer to the convocation of the Research Section, his parliamentary immunity could be lifted. Seneweb seizes the opportunity to go back in detail on this well-regulated procedure.
Summoned yesterday Monday to the Research Section, Ousmane Sonko refused to defer to the summons. Invoking his status as a deputy, the leader of Pastef said he does not intend to make the trip to Colobane unless his parliamentary immunity is lifted. In fact, the law provides that during a session, a deputy cannot be prosecuted for crimes unless his colleagues agree.
« The deputy is covered by immunity from the beginning of his or her mandate, which takes effect from the moment the Constitutional Council proclaims the results of the legislative election. No deputy may, during the duration of the sessions, be prosecuted or arrested in criminal or correctional matters without the authorisation of the Assembly », Article 51 of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure provides.
According to one source, the National Assembly of Senegal is in single session from 14 October 2020 to 30 June 2021. Thus, the authorization of the Assembly is necessary to prosecute the deputy Ousmane Sonko.
However, in the case of flagrante delicto or flight, the deputy can be arrested and even imprisoned without the approval of the National Assembly. When the latter is not in session, the authorisation of its bureau is sufficient.
In addition, the lifting of a deputy’s parliamentary immunity is subject to a well-defined procedure. « For the procedure to be initiated, the Minister of Justice, the Keeper of the Seals, must refer the matter to the National Assembly, after being referred by the prosecutor at the Court of Appeal, » explained our interviewee. In Sonko’s case, it will be the prosecutor at the Dakar Court of Appeal.
In fact, it all starts when a letter is sent to the Assembly accompanied by a document from the public prosecutor justifying his request. Once the letter is laid on the table of the Assembly, the bureau meets and decides on the follow-up to the request. It may issue an unfavourable opinion, i.e. a refusal.
The Assembly not yet seized on the Sonko case
However, if it decides that the procedure should follow its course, an ad-hoc commission is set up. It is made up of 11 members, bringing together all the sensitivities and in proportion to the weight of the different groups. The commission elects its bureau which is ratified in plenary. It is this bureau which makes the study of the substance of the request.
« The Commission must hear the Member of Parliament concerned, who may choose one of his or her colleagues as defender. During debates opened by the National Assembly, in plenary session, on questions of immunity, only the President, the Rapporteur of the Commission, the Government, the deputy or his or her defender and one speaker against may speak », Rule 52 of the Rules of Procedure adds.
After the study on the merits, another plenary will then be convened, this time on the recommendations of the ad hoc committee. The Assembly may then consider that there is no reason to waive the parliamentary immunity of the incriminated member. It may also decide to remove the parliamentary cover. In this case, the waiver of immunity is automatic. The deputy may therefore be prosecuted or arrested within seconds.
It should be noted that, for the moment (last night), according to our source, the National Assembly is not yet seized on the case of Ousmane Sonko.
Tags: National AssemblyDeputiesImmunite