By: Kebba AF Touray
Mr. Demba Sowe, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP), who also doubles as the Crime Management Coordinator, said the Police are an integral part in ensuring good governance.
AIGP Sowe said this on Wednesday, 6th October 2021, while delivering a statement on the seminar on Access to Information, which brought together officials from the Gambia Police Force, Civil Society Organizations and the media.
The seminar aims to widen the awareness of the citizenry on the relevance of access to information to enable them make informed choices, hold the government accountable, and ensure the government is transparent in the conduct of its activities.
“The Police are an integral part in good governance and this is why we have engaged our partners in ensuring that the capacity of the Police is enhanced in all areas, most especially in ensuring rule of law is protected. Access to information is key, but it is imperative to know what information needs to be accessed,” he said.
He further said even though they are aware that information needs to be given out, the Police need not be provoked to give information, stressing that they have an information office primarily to give information to those that request for such information.
Mr. Jan Pfeifer, GIZ Country Component Manager said: “GIZ is Germany’s service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education work, and helps in the promotion of international education work and human capacity development”.
He said their areas of work include but are not limited to displacement and migration, rural development, governance and democracy, economic development and employment, environment and climate, security, reconstruction and peace.
“The Police Program Africa is commissioned by the Federal Foreign Office in the Gambia co-funded by the European Union and has partners in nine West African Countries. Our outcome areas in the Gambia include support to Police Force Human Resource Management and public relations and civil society,” he said.
He also said access to information, as articulated in target 16.10 of the United Nations 2015 sustainable development goal, ensures public access to information and protects fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements.
“The seminar aims to foster exchange and understanding among stakeholders to deliberate on the opportunities provided by the new legislation on access to information, strengthening the relations between Gambia Police Force and Civil Society,” he said.
Mr. Gibairu Janneh, Director of Communications, ICT and Press at the National Assembly, told the convergence that access to information guarantees good governance, accountability and transparency in the conduct of the affairs of the government.
“Democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption, hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed,” he said.
He cited that the Existence of Official Secret Acts restrict the media from receiving information and reporting freely on government activities, low levels of education, illiteracy, poor transport and communication infrastructures, unavailability of information in local languages, lack of political will by governments and discrimination in terms of gender, income or disability, on the civil side as challenges confronting the realization of access to information.
Lamin Jahateh, the Gambia Press Union Program Manager, said the union over the past four years received at least D8 million on the process of the access to information, and that the idea was conceived in 2016.
“The access to information bill generally seeks to make information accessible by the citizenry. The bill spent 20 months before its subsequent adoption by the legislature on the 1st of July 2021 and President Barrow signed the access to information bill into law on the 8th of August 2021,” Jahateh said.