Saturday, September 30

Lawmakers want 2-year prison sentence for information concealers

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

Lawmakers have moved to pass into law a two-year jail punishment or a fine of D200,000.00 for anyone who deliberately conceal important information. The move was made as debate on access to information bill, which has been in parliament since 2020 for scrutiny was considered with amendments.

In his deliberation, Honorable Alhagie Mbowe, Vice Chairman of the committee said: “we believe the fine should be increased to D250, 000.00 and the jail term to 2 years imprisonment.”

Adding that, “a punitive measure needs to be in place to deter people from concealing or destroying information.

“We need to put some punitive measures that will be deterring (people from concealing information). So, it is not only about money the government is going to take but it is about deterring,” (people from the system of concealing information).

“We want to deter people from concealing, falsifying or destroying correct information to the requesters. So that’s why the committee wants the money to be increased to D250,000.00 and the jail term from 6 months to 2 years imprisonment,” he added.

Meanwhile, Honorable Sidia Jatta, lawmaker for Wuli West who also supported the bill, said: “I support the position of the committee, it is not ordinary people who do this, these offences are grave and it is not the poor and ordinary people who do it. So, I support the D250,000.00 and 2 years imprisonment.”

Meanwhile, Minister of Justice and attorney general, Dawda Jallow told the House that “people who with intent to deny the right of access to information must specifically intend to deny the right of access. And to put that intention to action your resort to destroying, damaging or altering information or concealing information or falsifying information or making a false record or obstructing the performance of the information holder or you interfere or obstruct the work of the commission or direct it or you counsel somebody to carry out the above.

“You obstruct all to the furtherance of your intention to deny access of course even if you are a public officer, you don’t need any protection. You have to face the full force of the law. Because you are not supposed to intend to deny access if the request is reasonable.”