(Freetown, Monday 30 August, 2021) – The Director-General of the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA), Mohamed Mubashir MASSAQUOI has participated in a meeting on Awareness Raising and Advocacy Project to strengthen personal Data protection in Sierra Leone, at the Citizens Advocacy Network Office, Bathurst Street, Freetown.
The essence of the meeting was to engage stakeholders involved in collecting and managing data so that they can promote the need for an enactment of a comprehensive legislation on personal data protection in Sierra Leone.
The meeting was organized by the Citizens Advocacy Network (CAN) in collaboration with ICT Users Association (ASUTIC) with the theme: ‘Sierra Leone Facing the Challenge of Personal Data Protection; State of Affairs and Challenges in Respect of the Malabo Convention.’
Present at the meeting were; the Human Rights Commission, Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation, National Telecommunication (NATCOM), Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Sierra Leone Bar Association, National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA), Independent Media Commission (IMC), Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC).
Making a statement at the meeting on the relevance of Data Protection Law to the Work of NCRA, the Director-General of NCRA, Mohamed Mubashir MASSAQUOI thanked the Executive Director of Citizens Advocacy Network for extending an invitation to the NCRA to partake in such a strategic stakeholders’ engagement that is geared towards national development. The DG noted that the NCRA is mandated in its law (Section 25) to provide certain information in relation to births, adoptions, deaths, marriages, nullities or divorces to several Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies for specific purposes. He mentioned that the enactment of a data protection law will greatly determine how these data and information are shared with these MDAs which will protect the individuals to which the personal data and information relates.
“A Data Protection Law in Sierra Leone will greatly improve the management and security of personal data of individuals kept by the NCRA. It will set out the procedures to be followed in order for the NCRA and other institutions to collect data from individuals while also informing individuals of their right to consent to the sharing of their personal data or information for processing and transmission to other data processors,” Mr. MASSAQUOI noted.
The DG informed participants present that prior to the enactment of the NCR Act, Civil Registration functions and management of population data was governed by several statutes and laws including the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1983, the National Registration Act 2008, as well as a number of other legislations indirectly related to the Civil Registration System. He added that the process of Civil Registration was therefore fragmented, truncated and uncoordinated thus dictating the risk of data loss, abuse and misuse. Mr. MASSAQUOI announced that the National Civil Registration Act of 2016 was enacted for the Harmonization, consolidation and integration of all existing laws and regulations into a single coherent legal framework to regulate and implement Civil Registration services and ensure that Vital Statistics are compiled and disseminated with Identity Cards linked to the Civil Registration system.
The DG also informed participants at the meeting that in July this year, Cabinet approved the establishment of a Data Protection Policy, Act and Regulation for Sierra Leone and that there is a Working Group comprising of several MDAs including Ministry of Information and Communication, NATCOM, Right to Access information, Ministry of Internal Affairs, the NCRA, Expert Legal Consultants and other Stakeholders who are currently looking at the drafts of these documents – Policy, Bill and Regulation. He noted that the Working Group will present final drafts of the documents by the end of September,2021, ‘which will be subject to review in the form of comprehensive and extensive nationwide consultations.’
The DG further informed participants that the NCRA has already received valuable inputs and support from its Development Partners into those drafts. He assured the Citizens Advocacy Network and other stakeholders present of a Data Protection Policy soonest.
“I will like to assure all present here today that at NCRA, we pride ourselves in protecting and safeguarding the personal and sensitive data of citizens and non-citizens who are resident in Sierra Leone which are registered with the Authority and that we are committed to ensuring that the Data Protection Law , Policy and Regulation is established and enacted before the end of the year with the support of other MDAs and Development Partners and I request that you all present here especially the host of this engagement , Citizens Advocacy Network, supports the process when the nationwide consultations shall commence,” the DG stated.
The DG concluded by encouraging Civil Society organizations (CSO’s), the Media and other interested groups to work with the Authority by supporting the process in various ways possible in order to make the effort a success.
IEC Directorate, NCRA