Opening Statement by Honourable Minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure, MR. Demba A. Jawo at the Stakeholder’s Workshop on the formulation of a Freedom of Information Bill.

Chairman

Cabinet Ministers

Resident Coordinator, UN System

Permanent Secretary MOICI

Participants

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

I am deeply honoured and privileged for this opportunity to deliver the opening statement at this multi-stakeholder’s workshop, which will serve as an initial platform to discuss the information of a Freedom of Information Bill for The Gambia.

This workshop, is initiated and organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNOC), in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (MOICI) and Article 19, with the primary aim of bringing together national stakeholders to discuss, share experiences and adopting recommendations to guide the drafting of The Gambian Freedom of Information Bill, in line with international standards and best practices.

Chairman 

With the beginning of a new democratic era in The Gambia, the President, His Excellency, Adama Barrow in his first appearance in public, articulated his government’s broad aspiration for the new Gambia. Key amongst the priorities he elaborated on includes healing the divisions of the past and establishing a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights and the right to productive. Unnecessary secrecy in government leads to poor governance and defective decision –making. We must realize that government and public sector bodies have been seen to be open and transparent by nurturing access to information in order to improve public confidence and trust.

 Chairman

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Finally, allow me to express on behalf of The Gambia Government, our profound appreciation and gratitude to United Nations System in The Gambia for the invaluable financial and technical assistance rendered to this government in setting the pathway to initiate key constitutional and legal reforms, with a view to strengthening democratic governance and facilitating socio-economic recovery. Allow me also to express specifically the Government’s gratitude to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Article 19 for spearheading this initiative and supporting the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure to take strategic actions and investments to better ensure the protection of citizens’ fundamental rights.

I wish to assure you of Government’s commitment to strengthening this partnership with your organizations to ensure strong, responsive, transparent and accountable public institutions in line with international governance obligations.

I thank you all for your kind attention and wish you fruitful deliberations to come up with recommendations to inform the drafting of The Gambia Freedom of Information Bill, freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers.

Chairman

Participants

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

The right to information is a guiding principle for participatory democracies, since only an informed population can effectively contribute to the construction of governments and political institutions. People need information to be able to adequately express themselves on matters of governance, holding leaders accountable, influencing service delivery and decision –making and for promoting and protecting their human rights.

This Government therefore , recognizes, and is committed to ensure adherence to all the international treaties, agreements and commitments that the Gambia signed and is a party to and will spare no effort to meet its obligation under Article 10 and 13 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption. 

It also recognizes and is committed to fulfilling its obligations to the African Union treaties that recognizes the right to access to information and oblige state parties to observe and promote this right. 

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

It is worthy to point out that access to, and exchange of information is vital in setting the development agenda of a country. Governments that are liberal in sharing information with citizens are more likely to develop faster than those that withhold or give piecemeal information. Access to information helps the public make public authorities accountable for their actions and allow public debate to be informed and more.

HON. MINISTER

 
Hon. Demba A. Jawo 

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