NA Select Committee and partners discuss Access to Informantion Bill

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Gambia Press Union and stakeholders, including persons with disabilities Tuesday tabled the access to information bill before the National Assembly-select committee on education for consultation before scrutinizing and adoption.

Once enacted, the bill will seek usher in clear accountability and transparency in the information dissemination.

Speaking on behalf of the persons with disability, Muhammad Krubally said in terms of access to information, Persons with disability are the most vulnerable groups, saying often legislations will include persons with disability to access to information but in reality, they are never considered in terms of accessing information.

Quoting article 2 of the UN convention on the rights of persons with disability, Mr Krubally said the article provides for them to access information in the form of language, display of text, accessible multimedia as well as written, audio, plain-language, accessible information and communication technology among others.

“I and many other blind and visually impaired persons don’t read the printed written scripts. How do we access information? Is either through braille, soft copy or electronic copy or tactile. If you go to the deaf and hard of hearing, how do they access information? The information should be available to them through sign language interpretation so, you can see that there is still restriction in terms of accessing information by persons with disability.so, if you talk about access to information, all restrictions and barriers are been removed from our way.

He said persons with disability are not catered for in terms of accessing information in both schools and public institutions, saying it the position of Gambia Federation for the Disable, government and partners to have information that will be made available to the persons with disability.

In response, National Assembly Member for Upper Saloum, Alhagie Mbow, said the bill provides for all the public bodies to keep maintain an organised and maintain information in a manner that will facilitate access to information, prompt and easy identification and access saying the onus is on does public bodies to ensure that no one is left behind.

“The information that they keep must be easily accessible by any person. It doesn’t actually stop anybody.”

Gambia Press Union Secretary General, Saikou Jammeh said the international best practice requires a line ministry oversee the implement and coordination of the act.

Mr Jammeh said the best practice is to give the act to the attorney general because it’s a question of rights not just government information. He said the research they have done shows that in many countries, the attorney administers the act not the minister for information.

West minister country coordination, Madi Jobarteh talk on the need for the commission to be independent to avoid undue interference.

Written by Juldeh Njie

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