SOCIETY for Democratic Initiatives (SDI)
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 October 2016
SOCIETY for Democratic Initiatives (SDI) commemorates the Universal Access to Information Day, joining hundreds of organizations around the world.
To mark this day, SDI published a report titled ‘The State of Access to Information Law Implementation in Sierra Leone 2016’.
This Report commends the government for passing the Right to Access Information (RAI) law in 2013 and for setting up the Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC) – a law which has been ranked as the 5th strongest law in the world.
However, the Report shows that despite achieving this significant milestone, there is a lack of political will to implement the human rights, transparency and good governance legislation.
The Report states that the RAIC is deliberately starved of resources by Government to prevent it from carrying out its mandate, and that the RAIC does not have an office space after being evicted from their last two offices for its inability to pay its rent.
Furthermore, the report states that the refusal to promulgate a RAI Regulation, has further affected the work of the commission and denied citizens their right to access information, even though CSOs have provided a draft of the said regulation.
The SDI Report also laments that Ministries, Departments and Agencies have no clue about the rights to access information law and thus violating their obligations under the RAI Law with ferocious abandonment.
The situational analysis bemoans the change in donor priorities, which has shifted to other issues. This has affected the work of civil society and the RAIC that are struggling for resources
The Report reveals that civil society intensity is lacking since the passage of the law.
Additionally, the lack of a records management system is identified as a reason for slow implementation and calls on the Ministry to target this challenge.
The Report made several recommendations:
– calling on Government to specifically allocate budget for the RAIC.
-Government to pass a Records Management Act.
-Government to pass the RAI Regulation.
-Civil society to step up its efforts in nationwide awareness and testing of the law.
-International community to prioritize RAI implementation.
– And capacity building for MDAs.
About the Society for Democratic Initiatives, Sierra Leone:
SDI is a national civil society organization working on transparency and accountability. SDI led the ten years civil society efforts for the promulgation of the Right to Access Information Law.
SDI is chair of the Governing Council of The African Freedom of Information Council, a pan African network of freedom of information Advocates.