At the on just concluded seminar to map the way forward for the music industry in Sierra Leone, The Legal Counsel at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ishmail K.Yillah has disclosed that a unit has been formed to address Intellectual Property Right (IPR) issues.
Mr Yillah was speaking to Awoko newspaper at the Miatta Conference hall yesterday, where the seminar to map the way forward for the music industry was in its second day.
Mr. Yillah explained that “the Ministry of Trade and Industry has started a process of administrative and legislative reform to create an enabling business environment in Sierra Leone, for businesses to thrive on; including the music industry.”
He stated that because of the reformation in both administrative and legislative processes, “the Minister prepared a cabinet paper,” which was subsequently followed by cabinet approval for a multi-disciplinary body for the development of a national position on intellectual property, which would cover copyrights, patents, trademarks and industrial properties.
The Trade Ministry legal Counsel stated, “the committee met and worked several times, but was unable to come up with a national position [on copyright issues].”
As a result, Mr Yillah continued, “the Ministry of Trade approached cabinet and requested approval to seek the services of an international consultant to help Sierra Leone design a policy and look at the weaknesses of the laws.”
The legal counsel explained that the request was granted and Sana Consultancy was called upon, with funding from the Department for International Development (DFID).
He explained that Sana Consultancy carried out a comprehensive study on all the IPR laws including copyright, and “at the end of the day their study was presented at a national stakeholders workshop, where the Sana options were validated.”
After the validation, “Sierra Leone copyright laws were identified,” but “they needed to be reformed in terms of administration and enforcement.”
Based on the Sana recommendations, he said, “the Ministry of Trade and Industry prepared a cabinet paper, which has been approved by cabinet and drafting instructions have been prepared and forwarded to the Attorney General’s (AG) office.”
He revealed that taking into account the lack of capacity at the AG’s office, the Ministry of Trade with DFID’s support under a private sector development project came up with a drafting expert on intellectual property and “the drafting process is presently ongoing,”
The Trade Ministry’s legal counsel noted that at the end of the process a commission would be formed which would have power equivalent to the High Court to handle copyright issues, adding that the commission would save people from going through the rigours of the court.