Panafrican News Agency

Gambian president signs Access to Information bill into law

Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - Gambian President Adama Barrow on Wednesday signed into law the West African nation's Access to Information (ATI) Bill that was passed by the National Assembly on 1 July.

A Gambia Press Union (GPU) statement made available to PANA on Thursday stated that the Civil Society Coalition on Access to Information commended President Barrow describing his assent to the bill as a fulfillment of his 2016 election campaign promise as well as a demonstration of his political will and commitment to transparency and accountability.

“The signing of the Bill is a climax of a five-year-long process in which various stakeholders, led by the Gambia Press Union through the CSO Coalition on ATI, campaigned for legislation on access to information," the statement said.

"The signing of ATI Bill 2021 into law makes it the first time in the history of The Gambia for the right of access to information to be legally recognised as a human right," it added.

The GPU said with the signing of the ATI bill the collaboration with the Government and other partners would be strengthened to create the necessary structures and systems for the effective enforcement and implementation of the Act.

The chairperson of the CSO Coalition on ATI, John Charles Njie,  said the new law was in line with the wishes of many Gambians based on the feedback gathered during the numerous consultations and sensitizations across the country.

He expressed optimism that all stakeholders would join hands in ensuring that the law was implemented for the benefit of all Gambians.

“We hope that all individuals entrusted with the role of information dissemination will endeavour to dutifully uphold the rule of law,” Mr. Njie said.

GPU President Sheriff Bojang Jr. said the signing of the law was a landmark achievement not just for civil society or the media, but for country, for it would go a long way in fostering the culture of transparency and accountability in the public service and called on Gambians "to test and use the law".

-0- PANA MSS/MA 26Aug2021