Regional Office of Right to Access Information Commission now Open in Kenema
As part of government’s commitment to promoting the demand and supply of information among the general public, public authorities and the private sector, the Right to Access Information Commission Regional office for the Eastern part of Sierra Leone has on Monday 7th August 2017 officially opened to journalists and the general public and the office is situated along Maxwell Khobe Street in Kenema. (Photo: The MLGRD, MOS-East, Commissioner RAIC & cross section journalists after the office launching of RAIC regional Office)
Commissioner Eastern region of the Right to Access Information Commission Mrs. Margaret Vandi Thoronka said the Right to Access Information Commission was founded at the highest point of the ebola disease outbreak in the country following a sustained advocacy campaign by a coalition of national civil society organisations in collaboration with international partners, adding that the government of Sierra Leone established the Right to Access Information Commission with the appointment of the chairman/Commissioner and four regional commissioners were done by His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma on July 2014 on the advice of the Minister of information and communications and approved by the Sierra Leone Parliament.
She said the Right to Access Information Commission Act was enacted by the Sierra Leone Parliament on 29th October 2013 in consistent with Article 9 of the African Charter on Human Rights which provides for the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through various media channels regardless of borders in tandem with article 19 of the Universal Declaration of human rights and the international covenent on civil and political rights with the appropriate internationally accepted exemptions to protect individual privacy, safeguard national security, defence, customs and traditions among others. She further stated that the novel action under difficult circumstances promotes transparency, accountability and good governance which lays a solid foundation for sustained socio-economic development and make Sierra Leone a place where information access is relatively smooth so as to enhance sustained socio-economic economic development.
The eastern region commissioner reiterated that the commission is the performance of its function under the Act has the powers of the High court to administer oaths,undertake investigations of appropriate matters, enter any premises in the conduct of investigations,order the release of information and impose fines, imprisonment or both.
Mrs. Margaret Vandi Thoronka maintained that the commission is independent and not subjected to the directions or control of any person or authority in the performance of its functions under the Act. She pointed out that the RAIC has the statutory mandate to promote access to information held by or under the control of public authorities whilst the private sector has the mandatory obligation in the Right to Access Information Commission to disclose information to the general public if that information is required for the protection or enforcement of any right.
The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Hon. Maya Moiwo Kaikai stressed that the values of the Act are to request openness, fairness, swiftness, transparency, accountability and integrity and to promote open access to information as a way to achieve transparency ,accountability and good governance.
He emphasised that the commission has the powers to monitor and report on the compliance by authorities with their obligations under the Right to Access Information Commission make recommendations for reform, both of a general public, cooperate with or undertake training activities for public authorities on the right to Access Information Act 2013 and enhance its effectiveness implementation, refer to the appropriate public authority,cases which reasonably disclose evidence of criminal offences under the Act and publicise the requirements of the Right to Access Information Commission Act 2013 and the rights of individuals under it.
He said the implementation of the Right to Access Information Commission is undertaken by close partnerships with stakeholders and underpinned by cooperation, collaboration, equity, open, transparent and specific actions and activities.
The Minister of State East Hon. Karamoh Kabba further revealed that the secretariat of the Right to Access Information Commission is fully operational, working with Ministries, Departments and Agencies to develop publication schemes for early and sustained implementation of proactive implementation of their mandatory obligations in the Right to Access Information Commission Act 2013, coordinate the open data and data compact processes in Sierra Leone as well as SDG’s and implementation of programmes in the open data readiness assessment in collaboration with UN multilateral ,bilateral and national agencies and the regulations amd code of practice for records management for effective implementation of the Right to Access Information Commission Act.
He said the commission has opened offices in Bo, Kenema and Makeni cities respectively to serve in the Sierra Leone international benchmarks system, commemorating national and international open data events and activities, reflecting the RAIC statutory mandate and enhancing their profiles for socio-economic economic development and collaborate with national and international agencies on implementation of various activities in the Right to Access Information Commission.
By I K Musa
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