While Journalists in Sierra Leone joined others world wide to celebrate Word Press Freedom Day, the Minister of Information and Communication, Alhaji IB Kargbo has assured Journalists that the Freedom Of Information Bill (FOI) will be tabled before Parliament next week.
He made this disclosure yesterday at the Commissioning of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) headquarters at Campbell Street, Freetown.
Addressing a well attended ceremony, he stated that, “the Bill will be sent to Parliament after it has passed through Cabinet”. After that they will move to sensitize members of the public about the Bill.
Minister Kargbo reiterated that, “we want to make sure information is not restricted and also want people to have access to information”.
He announced that the United Nations in Sierra Leone is prepared to support the passing of the FOI Bill and to also make the Sierra Leone News Agency (SLENA) more viable.
The Information Minister noted that SLAJ is a very important component in the society, adding that the days are gone when Journalists are arrested and killed.
He called on all to embark on re-branding the country rather than giving it a bad image.
The Minister averred that the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) will be totally independent. He also assured the Independent Media Commission (IMC) that government will not interfere in their operations.
President of SLAJ, Umaru Fofanah while expressing excitement about the event, thanked the British High Commission, the Chinese government and Adonis Aboud for their support towards fixing the office.
He renewed his call to Journalists to be factual in their reporting; to help protect the credibility and respect of the public and to respect the rules of the game and the IMC.
Umaru Fofanah also named the Conference room of SLAJ as the Harry Yansaneh Memorial Hall in honor of the late Editor of the For Di People Newspaper.
The Chinese Ambassador, Qiu Shaofang said that his embassy has a very good relationship with SLAJ, adding that they had offered many opportunities for Journalists to study in China.
He hoped that the media in Sierra Leone will published about what is happening in China.
Ambassador Shaofang expressed that they will continue to support the association.
The Chairperson of IMC Bernadette Cole said the commissioning of the office is a formidable activity which every Journalist in Sierra Leone should be proud of.
The cutting of the tape to the Office was done by Peter Tayuong, representing the ERSG.
A procession was conducted along Pademba Road, Siaka Stevens Street unto the Association’s office at Campbell Street.
On Sunday at the Association special service at the Living Word of Faith Outreach Ministries at Victoria Street, donated £500 towards the Church celebrations of Encounter 2010. By Abibatu Kamara