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SLAJ urges S/Leone Govt to follow Nigeria’s example

SLAJ urges S/Leone Govt to follow Nigeria’s example

FreetownThe Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) urges the Government of Sierra Leone and Parliament to follow the example of Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan and pass into law the Freedom of Information Act. For nearly one year now, the FOI bill has been gathering dust in Parliament after several years of hard work by civil society, the media and the Ministry of Information and huge resources from donors put into it.

“We urge President Ernest Bai Koroma to intervene, rise up to the occasion and ensure the passing of the FOI Act which has been in limbo in the House of Parliament with hardly anyone knowing anything at all about it”, says SLAJ President Umaru Fofana. He says an FOI Law is good for the people, the media and even accountable public official. “It is only bad for corrupt public and quasi-public officials who are hiding the truth from the people and stealing public funds to wreck the country” Fofana continues.

On 3 May 2011, SLAJ staged a street protest and submitted a letter to the Speaker of Parliament, Hon Justice Abel Stronge, urging the House to speedily pass the bill into law. Despite assurances by the Speaker that the bill had not been shelved, not a word on it since Parliament returned from a recess last month. This gives us strong reason to believe that there is an apparently deliberate campaign by some members of Government, discouraging MPs from promulgating the law saying it will ‘expose’ them”, continues the SLAJ President.

Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf also signed into law her country’s FOI Act last year.

Signed: Ismael Koroma, SLAJ, National Secretary General

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