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Media stakeholders frown at Cybercrime Bill

Media stakeholders frown at Cybercrime Bill

Following the throwing out of Parliament of the proposed controversial Cybercrime Bill 2020 for want of wider consultations, media stakeholders have submitted a position statement to the Minister of Information and Communication, Mohamed Rhaman Swaray.

After a clinical examination of the bill during a peer group review led by the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists and the Media Reform Coordinating Group, stakeholders raised the red flag with regard to free speech and freedom of the press, data protection and the composition of the national Cyber Security Council.

In their position paper, the media stakeholders called for a change of the title of the bill from “Cybercrime” to Cyber Security, and the enactment of a data protection law to ensure that personal data is protected. They view the membership of the Minister as Secretary to the Council, in addition to the Director of Information as uneven and an element of political interference. “The Council must be an independent body that should be composed of all stakeholders including relevant partners and experts”, said Ahmed Sahid Nasrala, the President of SLAJ.

Media Stakeholders also called for the powers of the Minister to be curtailed.

The Minister commended SLAJ for a job well done and urged other groups to do likewise. He assured SLAJ that their concerns would be taken in good faith, and that the document would be further looked into by technical experts both at the levels of the Ministry and ECOWAS and further consultations with SLAJ and the Bar Association, before final submission to Parliament.  

By Abdul Kuyateh

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