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Report on Access to Information Bill 2019 adopted with amendments

Jun 26, 2020, 12:05 PM | Article By: Ismaila Sonko

Deputies at the National Assembly on Thursday adopted the Select Committee on Education, Training and Information Communication and Technology (ICT) report on Access to Information Bill 2019 with amendments.

Tabling the report before deputies, Alhagie Mbow, member for Upper Saloum and vice chairman to the committee, said the bill seeks to provide the framework for ordinary Gambians to access public records and information held by public authorities or by persons providing services for them as well as to provide for the procedure to obtain access to that information.

"In line with international standards, the bill also provides necessary exceptions to the right of access that should be limited and specific," he said.

Upper Saloum lawmaker explained further that the bill inter-alia protects the privacy of individuals with respect to personal information about themselves held by public bodies, medical records and communication with legal practitioners as well as security sensitive information for law enforcement and the defense of the state.

The bill, he said, also provides for the setting up of an independent commission to ensure that decisions on the disclosure of government information should be reviewed independently.

However, the committee recommends that the duties and responsibilities of the proposed commissioners be placed under special directorate at the National Human Rights Commission with the same rights and responsibilities. 

Hon. Mbow further recommends the directorate to be staffed with the appropriate personnel to be able to perform their duties in accordance with the Act; and that the Access to Information Bill, 2019 be passed with the recommended amendments.

He said following the second reading of the Access to Information Bill 2019 on the 5 December, 2019 by Abubacarr Tambadou, the Attorney General and minister for Justice, plenary, in accordance with Clause 68 (1) of the revised Standing Order 2019, referred the said Bill to the Assembly Business Committee (ABC)?

The ABC further committed the Bill to the select committee on Education, Training and Information Communication and Technology (ICT) as provided for in clause in 68(2).

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