By Alieu Kondoh
The Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC) in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) with funding from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) has on Friday 23rd October, 2020 held a training of trainers workshop for journalists on the Freedom of Information (FOI) Law at Family Kingdom resort in Freetown.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC), Ibrahim Sheaga Shaw said the event is an important one, noting that they have been working with journalists especially investigative journalists to seek for information using the FOI Law.
He quoted that Section 2 of the FOI Law requires public officials to respond to request for information.
He added that journalists are to set the agenda for public discussion and expects them to come at the commission for information.
Marion George representing Sky Radio thanked RAIC for ensuring that the public go for information at the commission.
She called on MDA’s to speedily give out information to journalists, saying that journalists do not have all the time in the world to wait for information.
The President of SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla in this statement thanked the RAIC for the initiative and also OSIWA for the funding.
He paid tribute to those that pushed for the Freedom of Information Law to be enacted noting that through the RAIC journalists can benefit from their work by reducing the chances of errors and libel whiles enhancing professional reporting.
He maintained that the training is timely as it is coming at a time when they have secured the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law.
The Chairman for the Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Information and Commission, Hon. Boston Munda said the RAIC plays an integral role in good governance by allowing citizens to hold government accountable.
He said it is the responsibility of citizens to uphold the laws passed by parliament and called on journalists to disseminate credible information and assured the RAIC of parliament total support.
The Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Mamadi Gobeh-Kamara in her keynote address expressed her delight to be at the event noting that their Ministry led the formulation and passing into law of the RAIC Act of 2013.
She highlighted that Sierra Leone is one of the 17 African States that has adopted a right to information law.
She said the RAIC Act of 2013 provides the moral basis for journalist’s freedom to gather and disseminate information, noting that the government of President Bio is committed to free, pluralistic and a diverse media.
She informed that Sierra Leone ranked 53 of Article 19 2019/2020 Global Expression Report which is the highest it has ever achieved and also fourth in Africa.