Concord Times (Freetown)

22 September 2008

Sierra Leone: Society for Democratic Initiative Ahead With Access to Information Bill

Freetown — Executive director society for democratic initiative, SDI in Sierra Leone is one step ahead by presenting a copy of the access to information bill to information and communications minister Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo in Freetown.

Emmanuel Saffa-Abdulai told the minister at his Youyi Building office on Brookfields that his organization has succeeded in drafting the proposed Bill and was soliciting government's support in seeing the bill enacted into law by parliament.

He said they have continued to collaborate with other institutions in that effort.

Saffa-Abdulai noted that the proposed Bill on Access to Information has been taken to the law officers department to be structured along standards obtained in Sierra Leonean.

He further revealed that "SDI has made a lot of strides regarding the need for access to information and we are still moving and meeting stakeholders on the issue." He informed the minister that a private member's motion was one way SDI hopes to take the bill to parliament but requested that the government, through the ministry of information and communications, get the Bill proposed in parliament as government sponsored.

In his response the minister noted that it was part of his government's policy to see that access to information becomes law.

He cited recent discussions he had with colleague cabinet ministers who, in principle, have accepted the need for a freedom of information law in the country.

Minister Kargbo said had it not been for the Private Member's motion that SDI has taken the government would have moved a Bill before Parliament on the need for access to information.

He, however, expressed government's commitment to taking up the issue again.

"It is part of our government's policy. If you look at the APC manifesto the need for a transparent government is part of our policy and this can be achieved through access to information," Kargbo said.

He said the concept of access to information was not only meant for media practitioners but also for the general public.

"I will take up the issue again with my colleague cabinet ministers and also discuss it with the president for government's action," he promised.

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