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Page added on June 12, 2012

Parliament debates FOI Bill

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Freetown, 09 June (SLENA): The Minister of Information and Communication, Hon. Alhaji I. B. Kargbo has tabled the Freedom of Information Bill in parliament.

Presenting the bill, the minister pointed out that it was part of government initiative to promote human rights and good governance, stressing that the bill seeks to make information available for public consumption.

He told parliament that the bill, being an Act, will allow for the disclosure of information held by public authorities and that it will promote transparency, accountability and good governance. It will ensure efficiency in public administration and the rule of law, the minister assured, pointing out that if the bill becomes an Act, it will help students, researchers including journalists and ordinary citizens to access the needed information.

Explaining the various sections of the bill, IB Kargbo said it is divided into parts that include but not limited to the right to access information, measures to promote openness, provisions for administrative, financial, appeals, penalties and exemption clauses, etc.

In his initial contribution to the bill, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Information, Hon. Yapo Condeh Conteh supported the bill but noted that structures are not in place to enact the bill.

On his part, Hon Frank Kposowa of the SLPP and former President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) referred to the bill as good for the development of the country as it can encourage transparency in public offices.

Hon Alimamy Coleson Turay of the APC highlighted the disadvantages of the bill which he said must be carefully looked into.

While Hon. Mathew Nyuma of the SLPP praised the bill, saying it will help move the nation forward, Hon Ibrahim Bundu of APC and Hon. Eric Koedoeyoma urged that the bill be critically examined in order to weigh the benefits the nation will derive before it can be passed into law.

While making his contribution, majority leader of the house, Hon SBB Dumbuya, thanked the minister and government for the effort in bringing the bill before parliament, noting that as a government they were in support of the bill but pointed out that measures have to be put in place for the bill to be effective.

“I believe in freedom of speech but I hate too much freedom of anything,” he added.

After the bill had gone through the First and Second Reading it was sent to the legislative committee for further deliberations.


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