The Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) and Media Rights Agenda (MRA) have commended The Gambia’s National Assembly for passing the country’s Access to Information Bill 2021 into law.
They then called on President Adama Barrow to speedily sign the bill into law to consolidate the restoration of participatory democracy in the country, which began with his ascension to power in 2017, following the historic elections of December 2016.
In a joint statement by Ms. Ann Iyonu, Executive Director of the GJF, and Mr. Edetaen Ojo, MRA’s Executive Director, the two organizations noted that “the signing of the bill into law by President Barrow would enable the government of The Gambia to achieve a significant milestone in advancing the right of access to information for Gambians”.
According to the organizations, 23 African countries presently have specific national access to information laws, with most of such laws coming from countries in West Africa. At the same time, The Gambia is the only country in Anglophone West Africa that has not yet enacted or adopted national access to information legislation.
Ms. Iyonu and Mr. Ojo noted that both the GJF and MRA had followed the progress of The Gambia’s bill at different stages with keen interest since its formal presentation to the National Assembly for consideration.
They added that they had provided guidance and advice from time to time to their respective partners in civil society, in the media, and government in The Gambia to enrich the bill’s content, strengthen it, and speed up the process of its consideration and passage.
In particular, they commended the Gambian Press Union (GPU) for its highly effective advocacy in support of the bill, and the Attorney-General of the Gambia, Honourable Dawda A. Jallow, for presenting the bill to the National Assembly in 2019 and for moving the historic motion for the third reading and passage of the bill on July 1.
Both organizations pledged their readiness to support and assist the government and people of The Gambia in ensuring the effective implementation of the new access to information framework after it becomes law.