By Yankuba Jallow
Civil Society Organisations in partnership with the GPU and other partners have launched the freedom of information coalition, a movement that will seek and advocate for the introduction and domestication of the freedom of information law in the Gambia.
The launching and inception meeting was held yesterday at the Tango office in Fajara.
According to the organisers, freedom of information can only be guaranteed and strengthened by a legislation; that this law is already implemented in over 115 countries in the world.
The freedom of information law set rules on how the public can access information or records held by Government bodies.
The special adviser to the Minister of Information, Ndey Tapha Sosseh who represented the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MOICI), said access to information is envisaged in the development agenda of the government adding that MOICI is advancing efforts to ensure that this is achieved.
In her statement, Mrs. Sosseh who was also a former GPU president, said the Gambia government through MOICI have signed an MOU with Article 19 to work on the draft processes of the freedom of information law.
Madi Jobarteh Program Manager of Tango said Freedom of information law protects the rights of the citizens to access public information and combats corruption, impunity and patronage to enhance efficiency and good governance.
He observed that hence the new Gambia accords its citizenry the freedom to express views and opinions, that it becomes imperative for people to have access to public information since “access to information is a basis to the democratic way of life’.
‘‘Lack of information seriously limits our ability as citizens to analyse decisions made by our leaders with a view to challenge and hold them accountable”, Omar Badgie executive director of Action Aid International the Gambia, the lack of adequate and unfettered access to relevant information often left the press and the public with no choice but make up information and rumor.
“I strongly support the idea of establishing an alliance of CSOs to campaign for free access to information. We owe it to ourselves and the next generation, to lay down a strong foundation for democracy and good governance founded on the principles of transparency, accountability and the rule of law,” he stated.