The Right to Access Information Commission (RAIC) Northern Regional office has held an engagement with local and international health partners in the health sector. The ceremony took place at the Regional Hospital at Makama, Makeni city on Thursday 20th October, 2022.
Speaking at the ceremony, Northern Region Commissioner of RAIC, Abu Bakarr Kargbo said the mandate of the Commission is to facilitate access to information held by public authorities including the private sector, noting that everyone has the right to access information as enshrined in section 2 (1,2&3) of RAI Act 2013.
“Every person has the right to access information held by or is under the control of a public authority. (2) Every person has the right to access information held by, or is under the control of a private body where that information is necessary for the enforcement or protection of any right. (3) Nothing in this Act limits or otherwise restricts the disclosure of or the right to access, information pursuant to any other enactment, policy or practice.”
He encouraged health sectorial heads to allow citizens to access information from their various sectors and proactively disclose information which is mandatory as stated in section 8 of the RAI of 2013, adding that the maintenance of record is vital for transparency and accountability.
Commissioner Kargbo added that in as much as the act promotes access, sections 12 to 26 exempt certain classes of information from being disclosed; ranging from personal data, national security etc. The fears of the participants were allayed by the commissioner who emphasized that the RAIC is the only arbiter to adjudicate on matters on what is, or what is not exempt.
Commissioner Abu Bakarr concluded that there are penalties in the form of fines ranging from NLE 10,000 for individuals to NLE 100,000 for a body Corporate, a reason why they should take the engagement as an opportunity to comply.
The meeting was attended by the Bombali District Medical Officer, Medical Superintendent, and other senior staff of the medical sector in region, with UNICEF among the international partners present. The interactive session ended with optimism that compliance to the RAI law will greatly increase in the northern region.