The Chief of Defence staff of The Gambia, General Masanneh Kinteh, presented a paper on balancing national security and access to information. In a lively question and answer session he dwelled on several issues of concern to The Gambian public, demonstrating, what he said earlier that the GAF of today has an open door policy and are willing to be engaged by the media and the public.
Representatives of the European Union and UNESCO expressed their satisfaction having participated in an enriching Forum which a year ago would have been impossible to pull off.
Participants which included the UNDP resident representative, the Ombudsman’s Office, representatives of several international organizations and INGO, experienced and senior members of the Gambia Bar Association, senior journalists, security agencies, minority groups, IT specialists and representatives of the private sector discussed the importance of an access to information law; the role of freedom of information legislation towards facilitating open and transparent governance; the relevant legislation and documentation that will strengthen the establishment of a freedom of information regime; the impact of the government’s General Orders and other administrative requirements on public servants on freedom of information legislation; the role of access to information to the security sector reforms.
Fatou Jagne Senghor, Regional Director, Article 19 noted that facilitating citizen’s access to information on public institutions not only promotes transparency and accountability but also checks corruption and enables the construction of a stronger society.