Sierra Leone Parliament to Consider FOI Next Week

3 May 2012

The Sierra Leone Parliament will consider long-delayed freedom of information legislation during the week of May 7, a top government official has said.

The statement of  the Minister of Information and Communication, Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, was reported in The Patriotic Vanguard by Ishmael Koroma.  [Ed. note: learned later that the article was essentially a press rleease by Koromo, the secretary general of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists.] has independently confirmed Kargbo’s statement.

The Vanguard quoted Kargbo as saying the bill would be “passed into law next week.”  He spoke at a meeting sponsored by  the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists with support from UNESCO.

“Mr Kargbo said he had spoken with the Speaker and Members of Parliament and that the bill would be brought before the House again next week for immediate passage,” the Vanguard reported, commenting, “This is not the first time Government has committed itself to an immediate promulgation of the FOI Act. On the past the pledges were not respected.”

SLAJ President Umaru Fofana said, “If it does happen as promised, it will be a watershed in the country’s history.”  But the Vanguard said he questioned the “lack of commitment on the part of government regarding a repeal of the obnoxious Criminal and Seditious Libel Law.”

According to the vanguard, Kargbo “admitted that the Criminal and Seditious Libel Law of 1965 was bad but sounded noncommittal as to whether the law would be repealed as had been promised on several occasions by President Ernest Bai Koroma.”

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