Sierra Leone’s Cyber Security and Crime Bill: An organized opposition makes democracy work well

Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella MP: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 June 2021:

Yesterday, Wednesday 23 June 2021, we as Parliamentarians passed the Cyber Security and Crime Bill which is now fundamentally different from the original draft bill presented to Parliament three months ago.

We should commend the public at large, SLAJ, the Bar Association, other Civil Society, and professional IT groups, who raised the alarm about the dangers embedded in the draft bill regarding basic rights of free speech, privacy and human rights.

They also sent invaluable inputs to MPs and the government during the nationwide consultations and pre-legislative process.

We, the opposition political parties, strongly opposed the original version. But more importantly, we played a critical role in making this Bill a good piece of legislation.

Over the last two months, the process demonstrated that if we want democracy to work well, we must have a well-organised, functional, effective, knowledgeable opposition.

Accordingly, we quickly organized ourselves to challenge the original Bill and proactively participated in the pre-legislative process to redraft or expunge obnoxious clauses.

This week we have spent three days working in the “Committee-of-the-Whole” alongside SLPP MPs to produce this legislation.

We rolled up our sleeves and worked jointly on the final Bill to, among other things, protect citizen’s rights, reduced powers initially vested in the Minister of Information and Communications, made the fines more consistent with international best practice, and ensured that the search and seizure warrant is limited in its physical and geographic application.

More importantly, Parliament gave a significant role to the judiciary. For example, the government or its agents must seek a warrant from a judge before executing a search.

Special recognition for Hon Marray-Conteh, Chair of the Legislative Committee (SLPP) and the Deputy Chair Hon Daniel Koroma (APC) for their diligence and leadership on key substantive issues.

Kudos to the Minister of Information and Communications for listening to parliament and engaging in wide, apolitical, and inclusive consultations across the country.

We wish other ministers will learn that not every policy or action has to be done “PAOPALLY” or for political dominance. It seems the minister listened to the most critical admonition we gave him i.e., “remember that someone else will be in your seat one day and may use bad laws against you”.

Ultimately, the successful implementation of this Bill will depend on the will of the Executive and an impartial judiciary.

Note: The Cyber Security and Crime Act enacted by parliament will be published in a few days in the Gazette after all the amendments agreed by parliamentarians have been made.

Editor’s Note

The Cyber Security and Crime Act has been approved in Parliament and now awaits presidential assent before it can become law.

You can watch the Chairman of the Legislative Committee in Sierra Leone Parliament – Abdul Sulaiman Marray Conteh speaking about the 2021 Cybercrime Bill after going through three days of cross-party legislative process in Parliament:

 

5 Comments

  1. Companies spend millions of dollars on firewalls, encryption, and secure access devices, and it’s money wasted; none of these measures address the weakest link in the security chain.

  2. In every nation state, There should be strong cyber laws having the provision of transborder access.

  3. Gimmicks and intrigue is ranking supreme within the Sierra Leone Corrupt & ineffective House of Parliament. It’s seems as if the the current sitting MPs do not really know their duties and functions. For God sake, why these MP’s went ahead in signing the so-called “cyber crime bill” without the rules?, see the direction egotism and greed, is taking Sierra Leone today as a country.

    Africans sin of “knowing” and “doing” is at play here. These MP’s are not patriotic at all & basically do not care about the people they representing, why put the cat before the horse?. The MP’s should have only sign, with the presence of rules and regulations accompanied by the bill.

    So why sign a blank check on behalf of a hungry man. Why the rush?. Do Sierra Leone really have the technical / technology to correctly meet international best practice?, Will the privacy & confidentiality of it citizens be protected. It’s a shame, pity, and sad story for the poor people of Sierra. It’s betrayal in the highest degree.

  4. Kudos to Honourable Yumkella and his fellow parliamentarians for the due diligence they have exercised, culminating in the passing into law what hopefully is a well thought out Cyber Security and Crime Bill for our country. That said, one cannot help drawing attention to an important – and to me very worrying – observation made by the Honourable Member of Parliament. In claiming that in the final analysis an effective implementation of the bill is dependent on the ‘will of the Executive and an impartial judiciary’, he leaves open the possibility of those two arms of government acting in ways that contravene both the letter and spirit of the bill.

    Indeed, given the authoritarian tendencies of the current Executive led by an old Sobel and a two-time Coupist and a judiciary that the Governor of the Central Bank is on record for describing as corrupt (he has of course retracted his words out of sheer cowardice) and thus manipulable for political purposes, is it the case that the legislation the Parliamentarians have worked so hard to produce is in the end a stillborn? I very much hope I am completely wrong here.

  5. I just read in the “organiserer. net” that this law has passed parliament yesterday. How this is in connection with this newspaper article?

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