African Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) together with its membership of 27 civil society organizations from 18 African countries congratulates the Government, Parliament and people of Sierra Leone upon the adoption of Freedom of Information (FOI) law.
This adoption demonstrates Government’s commitment to transparency and confirms that a lot can be achieved if Governments constructively engages with citizens on such an important agenda as transparency. During the Open Government Partnership regional outreach meeting held in Mombasa in May 2013, the Minister while responding to contribution made by Mr. Emmanuel Abdulai of Society for Democratic Initiatives and member of Sierra Leone freedom of Information coalition, promised that his government would expedite tabling and consideration of the country’s draft freedom of information bill.
The adoption of an FOI law represents Government’s strong intention to implement Africa Union transparency agenda underpinned by six treats that recognize and protect the right to information. It also signifies seriousness with which Government takes recommendations of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights’ which through Resolution 222 of April 2012 which among others calls on member states to adopt access to information laws in line with regional instruments. Sierra Leone becomes the thirteenth African country to adopt an access to information law following South Africa, Uganda, Angola, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Nigeria, Niger, Guinea, Tunisia, Rwanda and South Sudan.
The courage and commitment demonstrated by both the Government and Parliament in considering and passing the FOI bill in record time laudable. AFIC commits to accompany and support the country’s journey to successfully implement this important piece of legislation.
AFIC takes this opportunity to call upon His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma to expeditiously assent to the Bill and ensure that Sierra Leone becomes Africa’s shining example of effective implementation.
We also call upon the Government to expedite processing of letter of intent to join the Open Government Partnership which provides important opportunities to dialogue and receive advice to support implementation of access to information law.