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‘Our mandate is to promote access to information’

-RAIC Chairman

April 15, 2016 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

The chairman of Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC) has said the commission’s mandate was to promote access to information in the country and work collaboratively with stakeholders to accomplish that mandate.

Commissioner Unisa Sesay, speaking at the government weekly press conference at the Ministry of Information and Communications, said the Act which established the commission came about after years of advocacy by civil society groups in the country.

The Act was finally passed into law in September 2014 during the height of the Ebola virus outbreak in the country, thus making it difficult for the commission to commence work effectively.

“Our mandate is to promote access to information in the country for agencies like non-governmental organisations that are receiving funding, government institutions, among others. I want the public to know that we have powers similar to the High Court, which means we can fine and even remand to prison if anybody failed to comply with the laid down rules,” insists Chairman Sesay.

He added that the Act, however, has exceptions in respect of information that cannot be divulged even if requested, such as those on national security, secret societies, between lawyers and their clients, doctors and patients, etc.

He revealed that since the establishment of the commission they have received over 30 requests for information, including in respect of the Port Loko District Council and West Africa Examination Council.

He said the commission would soon open its offices in the provinces to allow commissioners appointed to the East, West, North and South to take up their respective posts.

He further disclosed that the commission would be hosting their first open data festival on 21 and 22 April, 2016 at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown.

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