Thursday, February 3, 2011
Gambia: Why Freedom of Information Act ?
NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA (MB)- The Gambia is among countries that do not have freedom of information in their stature books. There is no law on freedom of information in the Gambia that gives everyone especially the journalists the right to access information held by public bodies and even by private bodies in the country.
Freedom of information if enacted public bodies and private bodies will be emboldens to give out information to the media with out information to the media with out fear of reprisal. With freedom of information Act, journalist from both public and private media will have access to information from the government, to inform the masses. That will no doubt lead to enlighten society, which in turn consolidate or promote democracy and good governance, peace and stability, accountability and rule of law.
Again, there will be less rumour mongering about issues happening in the Executive, Judiciary etc, as journalists will have access to the information to clarify issues for the public. The journalist can freely indicate the source of the information he/she is making publics as set down in law. The right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media, which is explicitly, guaranteed in the law books.
As citizens, we need to have accurate, adequate, and current information about issues facing society and this can be done if freed on information Act is enacted. Freedom of information is also critical in development.
Freedom of information legislation must not been seen as an obstacle to improved economic and social conditions, but as an asset.
Recalling on the occasion of the 5th anniversary on commemoration of the murder of Deyda Hydara, Mr. Madi Jobarteh of TANGO presenting a paper on why freedom and Access to information Act matters says freedom of information ensures not only openness breeds accountability from both the government and the media. He added most of the burden on the media many have been removed, if three was freedom of information Act because it means the onus of obtaining information will not now rest with the press along.
He continued: but also a law will place a huge responsibility on the media to ensure that it reports. truthfully and in good faith. Thus, a freedom of information law will empower and encourage professionalism in the media and journalists. This is because such a law creates a level playing field and removes ant possibility of misrepresentation or misrepresentation.
Moreover it promotes a system of checks and balance for which both the government and media, and indeed citizens will have a common standard and interaction on the basis of which information is produced, and which no other party can abuse or misuse, cause it is a law in the constitution.
Therefore, if the right is violated one has the right to seek redress in the court. When we talk about freedom of information, we are talking about a lots advantages, as it will fundamentally encourage professionalism and honesty in public servants, and make our public institutions equally accountable, efficient and productive. Freedom of information law will serve as a platform for empowerment of the people to demand answers from the government and public institutions in the way and manner they run national affairs and manage public resources.