(Makeni City, Tuesday 19 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 Wusum Hotel in Makeni City, Northern Region.
The stakeholders consultative sessions which had been held in the Western Area Urban of Freetown, Kenema and Bo 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 also aims to get vital inputs from all the invited stakeholders in order to produce a very good Bill that will reflect the interest and aspirations of every one in Sierra Leone.
Participants were drawn from all regional MDAs, financial and educational institutions, Civil Society organizations, the security sector etc, all from the Northern Region.
For the purpose of spearheading or management of the data protection effort in the country, participants in this region supported the view of the creation of a new commission with representation from critical agencies and/or institutions such as NATCOM, Right to Access Information, etc.
Launching and declaring the stakeholders consultation meeting opened on behalf of the Resident Minister North, Abu Abu, the Provincial Secretary, Simeon Fatorma welcomed participants and implored them to treat the meeting very serious and as an important national issue.
He described data as record keeping and if it is kept in a safe place nobody will be able to have access to it, let only alone to destroy it.
The Provincial Secretary said some monofocal things have been happening amongst them wherein some people would want to use their data for their own advantage because of the absence of a Data Protection Law.
He assured the outcome of stakeholders consultative meeting will be reflected in the Bill and hence cascaded down during the implementation of the bill.
Mr. Fatorma disclosed that people in the northern region are happy to receive the NCRA to manage their personal records but he was concerned to know if they did 100% in the confirmation and registration as well as to know if it was still going on in the country.
The Provincial Secretary said that Sierra Leone is currently behind in the UNDP human development index because there is no record to determine what they do in Sierra Leone with regards to collecting proper data on all vital events in the country.
He informed the meeting that, the availability of records will guide them to move on with the development agenda in Sierra Leone.
He encouraged participants to embrace the draft Bill and implement it well to the fullest.
” …and this time let us use the law well. We are not short of laws in this country but we are not implementing the laws,” Mr. Fatorma informed.
He also disclosed to participants that some law breakers failed to accept their faults especially when history is bad on their side in breaking the law.
“For instance, my chief enforces a bye-law that anybody who do not pay local tax today, is liable to pay Le3,500.00 or you go to jail or you don’t go to your farm nor do you do any work, you start talking about Human Rights. What about you abusing the chief by refusing to pay the local tax, he asked.” ?
“Hence let us make a law that protects our data,” Mr. Fatorma pleaded.
Making a statement and welcoming participants to his chiefdom, PC Bai Bairoh Mabolleh Ashinni III of Mara Chiefdom, Bombali District, called on the participants to attach importance to the stakeholders consultation because Data Protection concerns everything about the individual and his or her existence.
He said he was impressed because the Council of Paramount Chiefs in Sierra Leone and Chiefs in particular from the Northern Region are part of the session to see what has been developed for the protection of their data.
“I think the organizers of this meeting did not make any mistake by inviting paramount chiefs. We are the custodians of the lands in Sierra Leone and NCRA is going to be the custodian of Vital records, vital information in Sierra Leone,” he pointed out.
PC Bai Bairoh Mabolleh Ashinni III assured that the paramount chiefs will support whatever law, whatever decision that was agreed upon at the meeting, as long as it is in the good of all.
He also assured participants that paramount chiefs are committed to work with the NCRA, especially when the Authority shall have opened its offices at chiefdom levels.
Chairman of the Stakeholders Consultative Meeting in the Northern Region, Acting Director of Admin. NCRA, Abraham Turay 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. Turay 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 for promulgation.
One of the consultants of the draft Data Protection Bill, Theo Alie Turay Esq made a Power Point 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 Power Point presentation on Rights of Data Subject, Obligation of Data Processor, Security measures, safeguards, regulatory entity, structure of the Bill and Structure of the Regulations.
Lawyer Theo Alie Turay 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 people resident in the country.
The International Consultant, Paul Okirig talked about international best practices in Data Protection and revealed some of the international instruments on Data Protection are the Malabo Convention, SADC model law on Data Protection 2010, ECOWAS supplementary Act A/Sa. 1/01/10 and the Application of Data Protection trends/best practices in Africa.
Mr. Okirig said it was better for Sierra Leone to have a new body to manage and protect people’s data with a well-defined role to play in an autonomous manner.
The Deputy Director of External Relations, Alpha Jalloh gave the vote of thanks.
From Makeni, the last session will be held in Port Loko City for the Northwest Region.
©IEC DIRECTORATE, NCRA