Addressing the gathering, Saikou Jammeh, Secretary General of GPU explained that the access to information is not only for journalists, but for every citizen of the country.
SG Jammeh indicated that GPU has gone through the process to strengthen the capacity of Civil Society groups particularly the civil society actors.
“This bill if passed into a law will be history for The Gambia as it will be the first time the right to access of information will be practiced and the decisions we take will depend on the quality of information.” he added
Also speaking, John Njie, chairman of The Gambia Press Union urged participants to be good ambassadors of the bill by amplifying the values and attributes, so that when the bill is been passed people already know it worth.
He went on to thank partners such as UNDP and the British High Commission for supporting the process.
British High Commissioner, David Belgrove explained that the Access to Information legislation reflects the fundamental premise that all information held by government and state institutions are in principle and may only be withheld ‘if there are legitimate reasons’ such as security.
Transparency, he continued, is a fundamental right for free people to see and scrutinise decisions made on their behalf
“The access to information act in the country is one more milestone to consolidating the democratic gain made these years. However passing the Act will just be one part of the process, as there is a need to build a robust mechanism for submitted requests and responding to request to information.” he added.
High Commissioner Belgrove equally highlighted that information management of the government will also be critical, reminding that ‘it will be impossible to access information if it isn’t held in an orderly and accessible format’.