(Bo City, Friday 15 October 2021) The National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) has continued its stakeholders’ consultative meeting on the proposed draft Bill on Data Protection Policy and Regulations at Fears Guest House Hall in Bo City, Southern Region.
The stakeholders’ consultative sessions which had been held in the Western Area Urban of Freetown and Kenema City is a nationwide exercise that seeks to solicit the views and opinions of stakeholders on the proposed Data Protection Policy, Bill and Regulations. The consultation aims to get vital inputs from the stakeholders in order to produce a very good Bill on Data Protection Policy and Regulations for Sierra Leone in 2021.
Participants were drawn from all regional MDAs, financial and educational institutions, Civil Society, the security forces, Media etc in the Southern Region.
The participants unanimously supported the creation of a new commission that will be responsible for Data Protection Policy and Data Regulations that will have representatives from various professional bodies including the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ).
Launching and declaring the stakeholders’ consultation opened on behalf of President Julius Maada Bio, the Resident Minister South, Mohamed E.K. Allie, welcomed participants and urged them to take the consultation process with seriousness because it is a manifestation of good governance.
“I want to use this opportunity to welcome everybody to this very important session here today and to admonish everybody here to take this session very serious as what is being manifested here is an element of good governance,” he stated.
He added it is an element of good governance because the drafters of the proposed Data Protection Policy, Bill and Regulations did not sit in Freetown and develop something that has to do with all of them which they will present its finished document without even consulting/involving participants.
“It is an element of good governance where people don’t sit up there and develop something that has to do with all of us like that… and if otherwise these people would have been there and just do everything and bring the end product to us and say there is a law and regulations etc” he confirmed.
The Resident Minister South justified the purpose of the stakeholder’s consultation meeting further and said, ” But even when they have initiated it, they deemed it necessary to come down to our level and to encourage us to participate in it. Which shows we have a very responsible government that respects the people of this country.”
He informed data collection and protection is a prerequisite for everybody that is why people who handle data have seen the need to look at regulations that will protect every data collected on everybody and on every institution.
He therefore pledged and assured NCRA and development partners that they will give the necessary support to the process.
Taking a cue from the Resident Minister South, the Provincial Secretary, Moses Gbetu described the Stakeholders consultation as an auspicious government business, noting that the government initiated to develop a Data Protection Bill to protect people’s personal data.
He also mentioned that he is optimistic that after the consultation process, the final inputs of these documents will reflect the views/opinions of all stakeholders in Sierra Leone.
The Provincial Secretary South disclosed the preparation of a data protection Bill is a global phenomenon which Sierra Leone should not be left out of.
” …Because this thing is happening all over the world now and we are no exception as we also form part of the global business,” he affirmed.
He said through data collection and data protection government is able to know the data of its citizens and the data of the country.
Mr. Gbetu commended all participants for being part of the stakeholders’ consultation which he said will become a driving force to help the Ministry of Internal Affairs to come with a Data Protection Policy and Regulations that will reflect the opinions of Sierra Leoneans.
Chairman of the Southern Region Stakeholders Consultative Meeting, who is the Senior Management Specialist at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mohamed G. Yoki, gave a background of the nationwide stakeholders’ consultation.
He said it is important to collect data and to also protect it but there is no law to regulate how to handle it or how to share it.
Mr. Yoki said the absence of a Data protection law in Sierra Leone is the reason for the nationwide stakeholders’ consultation in order to involve participants in its preparation before it will be taking to cabinet and parliament.
Speaking on behalf of the Director-General of NCRA, the Director of Policy and Planning, Aiah Lebbie Sosokonneh said the NCRA holds huge personal data of the population of this country.
He acknowledged the mandate of NCRA is to collect data and share it for useful purposes.
Mr. Sosokonneh said his organization recognized the huge data in its custody that is why it requested for a Data Protection Law that will guide on how to use the data and why to use it.
He revealed Data Protection is a human rights issue for everybody and appealed to the participants to commit themselves to it in order to produce a Bill that will help promote the work of NCRA.
Mr. Aiah Lebbie Sosokonneh further said the stakeholders’ consultation is going to be nationwide to solicit the views and inputs of stakeholders’ and be brought back to them for validation before it will be taking to cabinet and parliament.
“The end product of this exercise is for you to claim ownership to it that you participated in the development of the Bill,” he stated.
One of the consultants of the draft Data Protection Bill, Augustine Sengbe Marrah Esq made a PowerPoint presentation on the Proposed Data Protection, meaning of data, Data Subject and Data Processors, why protect data and Principles of Data Protection. He also made a PowerPoint presentation on Rights of Data Subject, Obligation of Data Processor, Security measures, safeguards, regulatory entity, structure of the Bill and Structure of Regulations.
Lawyer Augustine Marrah underscored how laws used to be prepared in Great Britain by the colonial masters and brought to Sierra Leone without involving Sierra Leoneans in their preparations and said they will want to deviate from that and prepare their own laws with the active involvement of citizens for whom such a law is drafted.
“Hence the reason for this consultation is for you to put your views and opinions in what we have drafted so that at the end of the day, you are satisfied that you were involved in the preparation of your own law,” he told participants.
Lawyer Augustine Marrah maintained he was very impressed at the way participants participated and interacted during the consultation session.
From Bo, sessions will continue in the Headquarters town of Makeni and Port Loko Districts.
©IEC DIRECTORATE, NCRA