Campaign for FOI Relaunched at Sierra Leone Conference

23 May 2013

Sierra Leone Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Theo Nicol said May 13 that the political will exists to ensure a freedom of information bill is passed this time around and that the president will sign it.

His remarks came at  conference at which supporters of legislation relaunched a campaign for a FOI law. Efforts to get such a law passed began back in 2003. Support from presidents and ministers in the recent past have not helped legislation get over the hump in Parliament. (See 2012 report by Freedominfo.org.)

No bill has been introduced in the current session, but will be soon, according to notes from the meeting. Legislation advanced through a 1st and 2nd reading in the last session of Parliament, but did not advance further, one speaker said, because of fears that the law would be used by the media to harass politicians.

Presentations were made on strategies and on the reasons for a FOI bill.

The Communications Officer of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), Glennis Frazer, “said non-access or limited access to information over the years is main reason for the increase in corruption in public offices, which in turn has led to bad governance and increased poverty in the country,” according to an article in Cocorioko.

Another speaker urged that a “gap” existed between civil society organizations and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists and said the campaign needs a unified front. One speaker suggested it would best if SLAJ took a back seat in the campaign so as to not intimidate politicians.

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