Dr Shaw

The Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC) has in a press statement dated 16th reminded all public authorities to submit their Proactive Disclosure of Information (PDI) Schemes and Annual Compliance Report(ACR) as provided for in the Right to Access Information (RAI) Act 2013 by the deadline of 1st February, 2024.

The Commission appreciates the efforts of all those public authorities that have been complying with their obligations under the Right to Access Information Act of 2013 which has progressively increased the rate of compliance over the past five years as clearly manifested in the Commission’s annual reports since 2019. The RAIC urges the those that have not started the process to cease this opportunity and do so.

“By complying with freedom of information requests and proactively disclosing information that is supposed to be in the public domain, as well as letting the Commission know the extent of their compliance with the RAI law by completing and submitting their ACR and PDI templates, public authorities would not only be enhancing the smooth and timely supply and demand of public  information in the country, but would also be more importantly building public trust in their service delivery”, Said Dr. Ibrahim Seaga Shaw, Chairman and Information Commissioner of RAIC.

The Commission wishes to draw the attention of the Public Authorities to key sections of the RAI Act 2013 that are binding on them. Section 8 (2) provides that all public authorities should adopt and disseminate widely, including on their website, a publication scheme which has been approved by the Commission within six months of the coming into operation of the Act or its approval. Section 8(5) of the RAI provides that all public authorities should publish information in accordance with their publication schemes.  Section 2(2) provides that all public authorities are obliged to provide access to information they hold on request, except information that is exempt under Part 3 of the RAI Act.

Section 41 on the other hand stipulates that the Commission should within three months after the end of every financial year submit to the Minister of Information and Civic Education a report for the attention of Parliament and State House on the performance of its functions during that year and on their policies and programmes.

Section 41 (3) again provides that the annual report shall also include an overview of the performance of all public authorities in implementing the Act. Whereas as section 41 (4) states that to enable the Commission to comply with subsection (3), all public authorities should report annually to the Commission on the steps they have taken to implement the Act, including a report on the requests for information they have received and how these have been dealt with. Sections 27, 28, and 29 also oblige them to report on their status of compliance with having a records management unit, a public information officer, and an ICT unit, respectively.

The Commission obliges public bodies to generate timely and quality information and proactively disseminate it for broader access by members of the public and other public authorities. The benefit for this is that the more information routinely published the less need for the public to make request for information, therefore saving time and money. New technologies make it easier to publish and disseminate information, for example, the websites of public authorities.

Public Authorities are to be reminded about a memorandum written in December 2023 calling on them to submit their ACRs and PDIs. Voluntary disclosure of information serves the interest of the public and accentuates the performance of the MDAs. Over and above that, timely submission of their PDI and ACR Reports to the Commission is critical to the transparency and accountability that has reputably characterized the growing Sierra Leone open governance ecosystem.


Copyright –Published in Expo Times News on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2024 (ExpoTimes News – Expo Media Group (expomediasl.com)