In line with its mandate, the Chairman/Information Commissioner of the Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC), Dr. Ibrahim Seaga Shaw, last Wednesday 26th August 2020, officially presented the Commission’s annual report to the Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Madam Mamadi Gobeh-Kamara, in the ministry’s conference room at Youyi Building in Freetown.Dr. Ibrahim Seaga Shaw, during his presentation said that the 2019 report is the first produced by the Commission since its establishment in 2014. According to him, they inherited what he described as a ground zero situation, without any annual report or audited financial report in addition to very weak internal controls, limited and low staff capacity.

He explained that after taking over, they had to call in the Public Sector Reform Unit (PSRU) and commissioned both internal and external audit to address the confused situation they inherited. As a way of leading by example, and in making the transition from a culture of secrecy to a culture of openness, transparency and accountability, Dr Seaga Shaw said they decided to produce an annual report that will cover the first year of their reign.

He thanked staff of the Commission, local and international partners for their invaluable cooperation and support, adding that details of the report will be made public when it is presented to Parliament.

Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Madam Mamadi Gobeh-Kamara, in her statement after receiving the report, on behalf of the Hon. Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, expressed sincere thanks and appreciation to the RAIC Chairman and his team for holding the fort and fulfilling their mandate by producing the very first report of the Commission.

According to her, the presentation shows the seriousness the Commission puts into its job, noting that the RAIC is very critical to enabling citizens make their voices heard and effectively monitor and hold government accountable and also enter into informed dialogue about decisions that affect their lives. She said the Ministry fully supports the effective implementation of the Right to Access Information law to enable Sierra Leoneans seek and receive information as it is a fundamental human right.

She noted that government fully supports the full functionality of the RAIC to ensure transparency and accountability in governance and encouraged the institution to continue the work they are mandated to do for all to benefit. She emphasized government’s commitment to ensuring that Sierra Leoneans have unhindered access to information.

Following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendation in 2005 for a free flow of Information in the country, civil society organizations together with SLAJ (Sierra Leone Association of Journalists) galvanized and called for an Access to Information Law.

In 2013, the Right to Access Information Act was passed into law giving birth to the Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC).

Section 41 Sub-Section 5 of the RAIC Act of 2013 states that the minister shall lay copies of the annual report before the House of Parliament, within two months after receiving it.

By: Finda Judith Ngaujah, Strategic Communications Unit, Ministry of Information and Communications