Civil Societies organizations, the media and general members of society yesterday, Tuesday, 28th September 2010 joined the rest of the world to celebrate Right to Know Day on the theme, "The urgency of promulgating the long awaited Freedom of Information Act-What next?" at the British Council auditorium in Freetown.
The ceremony organized by the Society for Democratic Initiatives (SDI) in collaboration with Freedom of Information Coalition (FIC) was chaired by Falla Ensa-Ndayma.
In his maiden statement, Chairman Ensa- Ndayma noted that the act of knowing is instinctive in every human being and that human beings are always and at all time curious to know what is around them and what is happening with them. He said the right to know should not be restricted by any means noting that any attempt to limit or hinder it will tantamount to a violation of a fundamental human right as according to him, the right to know is integral to the right of freedom of expression and of conscience.
He said for the media and civil society to function well in any democratic society, they must access information that is of interest to the people and to national socio-economic and political development.
He noted how difficult it is to access information especially in developing countries, disclosing that some one hundred journalists have lost their lives world wide in their bids to get information in the interest of their peoples.
This resistance according to him is due to the fact that those in authority in those countries are engaged in dubious and corrupt activities which they are always ready to hide from the journalist and whosoever is in want of such information.
He said Sierra Leone is plagued with corruption because of the absence of a Freedom of Information (FOI) laws that will give the right to access and receive information. He referred to the current ongoing struggle for the FOI as "relentless" noting that the current struggle is for the redemption of future generations.
Desmon Johnson, the Acting Director of Public Education and Outreach of the Anti Corruption Commission said FOI laws if enacted will give a significant leap to the socio-economic development of Sierra Leone. He described the FOI as a key to hidden secrets noting that with the enactment of the FOI, the fight against graft would be boosted, as it will access and retrieval of vital information from all corners of the country.
The Regional Human Right Officer Bankole C.E. Morgan said FOI was a tool that promotes and protects human rights. He underscored the importance of the FOI as an avenue for the flow of accurate information for the benefit of the people.
Other Speakers at the ceremony included, Commissioner Augustine Gamoh of the Independent Media Commission, Mr. Peter Ngu Tayong, Head of Communications at the UN Country Team and the Director of SDI, Mr. Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai.