News / Africa

    Sierra Lone President to Sign Freedom of Information Bill into Law

    Sierra Leone's incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma waves to supporters after voting in the capital, Freetown, November 17, 2012.Sierra Leone's incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma waves to supporters after voting in the capital, Freetown, November 17, 2012.
    x
    Sierra Leone's incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma waves to supporters after voting in the capital, Freetown, November 17, 2012.
    Sierra Leone's incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma waves to supporters after voting in the capital, Freetown, November 17, 2012.
    James Butty
    Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma is expected to sign into law a new Freedom of Information bill Thursday after it was approved by the country’s parliament.

    Information and Communication Minister Alpha Kanu says the bill is in line with the government’s reforms to promote and reinforce democracy and good governance in the country.

    The bill’s approval comes as Sierra Leone journalists on Tuesday imposed a news blackout in solidarity with two journalists jailed and charged with 26 counts of seditious and defamatory libel for criticizing President Koroma.

    Kanu says the Freedom and Information Bill will make access to information in Sierra Leone easier.

    “It is a bill which normally would be referred to as the Freedom of Information Bill, but it has been renamed as the Right to Access Information which gives anybody above the age of 15 years old, a citizen of Sierra Leone to demand or request any information from any public body or private body that does receive any funding from the consolidated fund for any information that is not confidential in nature,” he said.

    Kanu said Sierra Leoneans are enjoying freedom of information, freedom of expression and freedom of association under the Koroma government in compliance with the tenets of our democracy.

    Sierra Leone journalists on October 29th imposed a news blackout in solidarity with two journalists jailed and charged with 26 counts of seditious and defamatory libel for criticizing President Koroma.

    Police arrested Jonathan Leigh, publisher of the Independent Observer and Bai Bai Sesay, editor of the same paper on Friday, October 25 and charged them under the 1965 Public Order Act.

    It stipulates that any person who prints, publishes, sells, or distributes any publication deemed seditious can be fined and handed prison terms of up seven years.

    In an October 17 opinion article entitled “Who is Molesting Who: The President or the VP?” the paper reportedly likened President Koroma to a rat and dictator.

    Information and Communication Minister Kanu said the two journalists were arrested for printing and disseminating false information.

    “Information is important, but you must give credible information. Nobody would have refused them information if they had asked for it. But what they did they fabricated information that were total lies contrary to all existing tenets of truth, and I know that’s why they are where they are at the moment. And in any country the laws must be obeyed. Seditious libel or criminal libel and malicious defamation of character are not some of the best practices for ethical journalism,” Kanu said.

    In addition to Sierra Leone courts which Kanu described as working satisfactorily, the bill also sets up an “information commission” which has the powers to summon individuals who would refuse to make available public information that has been requested.
    Butty interview with Kanu
    Butty interview with Kanui
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora