By Tabora bojang
The Gambia civil society organisations in partnership with The Gambia Press Union and other partners have launched a movement dubbed “freedom of information coalition” a movement that will seek and advocate for the introduction and domestication of freedom of information law in the Gambia at an event in Tango Fajara.
The freedom of information law set rules on how the public can access information or records held by government bodies and corporations.
The organisers maintained that freedom of information can only be guaranteed and strengthened by a legislation and the law referred to in other countries as Sunshine laws is implemented in over 115 countries over the world.
Deputising for the Information minister at the launching, his adviser, Ndey Tapha Sosseh said access to information is envisaged in the development agenda of the government and the ministry.
She said the government through the ministry, is collaborating with Article 19 to work on the draft processes of the freedom of information law
Madi Jobarteh the programme manager of Tango said the freedom of information law protects the rights of the citizens to access public information, and combat corruption, impunity and patronage to enhance efficiency and good governance.
He said since the new Gambia accords its citizenry the freedom to express views and opinions, it becomes imperative for people to have access to public information saying ”access to information is basic to the democratic way of life ”
“Failure to divulge or restrict information gives rise to speculations, distrust and violent opposition to the government” he observed.
Omar Badgie, executive director of Action Aid, said the lack of adequate and unfettered access to relevant information often left the press and public with no choice but to make up information and rumours.
“I strongly support the idea of establishing an alliance of CSOs to campaign for free access to information. We owe it to ourselves and the next generations to lay down a strong foundation for democracy and good governance founded on the principles of transparency accountability and the rule of law.”