Appointments Said to Violate New Law in Sierra Leone

11 September 2014

The appointment of a government appointee as the first chief information commissioner and the selection of an executive secretary for the commission by the president of Sierra Leone violate the new law, according to Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, Executive Director of the Society for Democratic Initiatives.

In a letter to President Ernest Bai Koroma, Abdulai said he was “a bit disappointed that the appointment of information commissioners, plus its executive secretary, were shrouded in secrecy despite the intent, purpose and spirit of the Right to Access Information Law are to create a transparent and accountable governance structure.”

The nomination of the chief information commissioner “contravenes section 31 (3) (a)” of 2013 act, he explained. It states, “No person shall be appointed a member of the commission if the person is an employee of a political party or holds elected or appointed position in central or local government.”

“The proposed chairperson is currently the State House Director of Communications, an appointed position in central government,” the letter says, concluding, “This clearly violates the provision of the RAI Act, Mr. President.”

Further, he wrote, the commission, not the Minister of Information, should pick the executive secretary.

“This is very clear in Section 34 (2), which unequivocally stated that ‘the Executive Secretary, Finance Officer, Administrative Officer and such other technical and administrative staff, shall be appointed by the Commission, on such terms and conditions as the Commission shall determine.”

Urging close compliance with the law, the letter notes that the RIA has been rated as the fifth strongest law in the world, “portraying to the world that we are very willing and ready to move away from the past of business as usual.”

“All of these laurels, Mr President, go to you and your government. A twist in the journey portrays our country as not being serious with building institutions and respecting our own rules of law that entrench openness, and will subsequently undermine our international credentials.”

 

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