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CSO Coalition, GPU & Gov’t Commemorate Second Anniversary of ATI Act, 2021 

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John Charles Njie, Chairperson CSO Coalition Access to Information

The Civil Society Organization (CSO) Coalition on Access to Information and the Gambia Press Union (GPU), in collaboration with the Ministry of Information, held a press conference on Friday to mark the second anniversary of the signing into law of the Access to Information Act, 2021 (ATI Law).

The press conference was held at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Information, GRTS Building in Kanifing. It was attended by representatives of the CSO Coalition on Access to Information, the GPU, the Ministry of Information, and journalists from the print and electronic media.

The purpose of the press conference was to assess the progress made in terms of the implementation of the ATI Law, to identify the challenges that have been encountered, and to discuss the opportunities that a full implementation of the law would bring.

In his remarks, the Minister of Information, Hon. Lamin Queen Jammeh, said that the ATI Law is a landmark piece of legislation that will promote transparency and accountability. He said the Government of the Gambia is highly committed to open democratic leadership and Governance. 

“I want to reaffirm your confidence that the leadership of the Gambia under President Barrow is highly committed to open Governance to democratic leadership and governance.  This is one reason why he takes pride in talking about ATI at the highest level. With us here at the Ministry of Information, one of the greatest pride we will ever have is to make sure that the law of AT is implemented,” he said. 

John Charles Njie, the chairperson of the CSO Coalition on Access to Information, highlighted the challenges facing the ATI Law and expressed disappointment at the Ministry of Information’s decision to develop a new roadmap instead of adopting the one submitted to them in November 2022.

“As a country, having access to information legislation is not the be-all and end-all of our quest as a nation to ensure people fully enjoy their right of access to public information or ensuring transparency and accountability in government and governance processes. From the above, we observed that very little progress has been made about the implementation of the Access to Information Act, of 2021, especially regarding the most important and major issues that would ensure people enjoy the right to information.

“For example, the Roadmap which was supposed to give direction and serve as a strategic plan for the implementation of the Access to Information law which was submitted to the Ministry of Information on 28 November 2022, has not been adopted by the Ministry as the National Roadmap. Instead, despite the consultations with the Ministry before the development of the document, the Ministry has decided to develop a new roadmap a clear duplication of efforts and a waste of resources,” Mr. Njie said.  

 The Chairman further revealed that this has significantly affected the implementation of the law, as the Ministry currently lacks a clear direction for the operationalization of the law.

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