The Society for Democratic Initiative (SDI) and the Information Coalition have awarded the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for the Commission’s full compliance with the provisions of the Right to Access Information Act 2013. The Award was presented at a one-day National Stocktaking conference organised by SDI and the Information Coalition for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the media. The conference, which was held at the Hub Hotel in Freetown on Wednesday 3rd November, 2021, was to form a multi-stakeholders group that will serve as a monitoring tool for the implementation of the Right to Access Information law.
SDI and the Information Coalition have been at the forefront of the campaign for the legislation of the Right to Access Information law in Sierra Leone. Right to Access Information from public authorities is a fundamental right of every citizen. This right is established in the Right to Access Information Act No.2 of 2013, being an Act to disclose information held by public authorities.
The ACC understands that freedom of information is indispensable in the fight against corruption. That is why in his statement, the ACC Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. said the importance of data-keeping is paramount as we now live in the age where misinformation is now a norm and people who do not have access to information will fill in the gap with negative stories which can destroy the image of an institution.
He commended the SDI and its partners for such as laudable venture to ensure that the bill that was passed in 2013 is fully implemented by all public bodies. The anti-graft czar assured SDI of the Commission’s unwavering support to implement the provisions of the right to access information law, citing the establishment of the Information Desk at the Commission as a testament.
Whilst giving his welcome address, the Executive Director of SDI, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, expressed his gratitude to partners in the right to information campaign for their commitment from the inception of the campaign to the current period to get the law implemented and popularized. He said the law is about the promotion of human rights, accountability and transparency, adding that it is now time to popularize the law to the masses. He added that there is a political will from the office of the President to fully implement the Right to Access Information law. Mr. Abdulai urged MDAs to implement the law and create openness in their activities to bridge the gap between citizens and governments.
The Deputy Minister of Information and Communication, Solomon Jamiru Esq., said as State actors who were elected to serve the people, it is of utmost importance to provide citizens the right to access information to create trust between the public and the State. He reiterated Government’s commitment to the implementation of the Right to Access Information Act.