March 23, 2015 By Patrick J. Kamara
Commissioner General of the Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC), Unisa Sesay, last Thursday disclosed to pressmen at the weekly government press briefing at the Ministry of Information and Communications that the commission has commenced full operations.
The Right to Access Information is an Act that was enacted by Parliament in October 2013 to provide for the disclosure of information held by public authorities or by persons providing services for them.
Sesay revealed that since the establishment of the commission they have been faced with problems of settling down, but have commenced a countrywide campaign about the Act and commissioners as people are yet to have full knowledge about the law on access to information.
“We are starting the implementation of the Act with the journalists and other members of the public in Freetown. We are not going to stop here; it has to be an activity all over the country. We understand that most parts of the country are not aware of the Act,” he averred.
He said the country was the 12th in Africa to enact a specific law, which makes it mandatory for the disclosure of information listed in the enabling Act and other information requested by members of the public, save only those exempt by the Act itself.
Commissioner Sesay maintained that the RAIC has the power of the High Court in implementing the said Act and that failure to abide by its provisions is punishable by a fine, imprisonment or both for individuals as well as entities.
He disclosed that PDF version of the Act can be assessed online, while the hard copies can be accessed at the national public libraries in Bo, Kenema, Makeni, and Freetown and other tertiary institutions.