Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 August 2020:
Sierra Leone’s controversial proposed Cyber Security laws which have been tabled in parliament by the ministry of information and communication on behalf of the government for enactment, saw its passage through pre-legislative committee stage yesterday, where it was discussed by MPs and stakeholders.
Yesterday’s parliamentary committee debate follows last Thursday’s one-day Stakeholders Consultative Forum on the proposed Cyber Security Bill, organised by the ministry of information at the Country Lodge in Freetown.
Delivering his keynote address at last Thursday’s stakeholders’ consultative forum, Minister of Information and Communications – Mohamed Rahman Swaray, said that the purpose of the stakeholders’ consultative meeting was to build a consensus on the draft Cyber Security Bill, which his ministry has worked hard in collaboration with the Office of the Attorney General and the Law Officers Department to produce.
He urged stakeholders to fearlessly debate the proposed Bill and ask questions that will enrich the debate and enhance the strength of the proposed law, to address current and emerging challenges facing the country in cyberspace.
As a government, he said their responsibility is not only to protect citizens in real life but also to ensure that citizens’ cyber space is protected. He described the Bill as a specialized Legislation that required the expertise of professionals in putting it together.
He stated that the ministry has held series of consultations with Civil Society, MNO (Mobile Network Operators) Service Providers, Members of Parliament and a host of other stakeholders including the Attorney General’s Office.
The Leader of Government Business, Hon. Sahr Mathew Nyuma, recalled that they attended the consultative meeting held at the Radison Blu Hotel by the Ministry of Information, where they extensively discussed issues relating to the proposed Cyber Bill including the Malabo and Budapest Conventions which set standards for the use of Cyber space.
Having been a victim of Cyber-crime on a number of occasions, Hon. Nyuma warned that everyone would be vulnerable if the country does not enact tough laws to deal with the situation.
The Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education, Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, appealed to Members of Parliament to take into cognizance the fact that hacking can be used for negative and positive reasons, and that should be considered when deliberating on the Bill.
Hon. Chernor M. Bah, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, described the Bill as sensitive and the most important to be deliberated on by the present Parliament because it affects each and every one in the country.
The Director of the Directorate of Science and Technology (DSTI) – Michaela Mackay, said that the Bill should be very clear on offences and punishments. She encouraged the Minister of Information to work on the Data Protection Bill as well, so that it can sit alongside the Cyber Security Bill, maintaining that both Bills should go together.
The Chairman of the Legislative Committee in Parliament, Hon. Hindolo Moiwo Ngevao, said the proposed Bill is professionally drafted, and that when passed into law it will help address many issues confronting the use of cyber space.
He assured that MPs will work tirelessly to ensure that they have a good piece of legislation that will stand the test of time.
Source Credit: Bampia James Bundu, Strategic Communications Unit, Ministry of Information and Communications