(Port Loko City, Wednesday 20 October 2021) – The National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) has ended the nationwide Stakeholders consultative meeting on the proposed draft Bill on Data Protection Policy and Regulations at the Port Loko District Council Hall, Port Loko City, Northwest Region.
The Stakeholders Consultative meetings started in the Western Area of Freetown on Monday 11th October 2021 and continued in Kenema, Bo and Makeni until it ended in Port Loko City on Wednesday 20th October 2021.
The nationwide stakeholders consultative sessions seek 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, media, etc, from all the Regions.
For the purpose of spearheading or management of the data protection effort in the country, participants in all the regions 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, media, security sector, etc. The new body should be called the National Commission for Data Protection (NCDP).
Launching and declaring the stakeholders consultation meeting on behalf of the Resident Minister Northwest, Haja Isata Abdulai-Kamara, the Hon. Paramount Chief of Port Loko District, who is also Paramount Chief of Kasseh Chiefdom, PC Bai Bureh Sallu Lugbu welcomed participants and stressed they need to protect their data as well as their information.
Hon. PC Bai Bureh Sallu Lugbu informed participants that the proposed Bill will cover every aspect of the personal details of human beings and it is incumbent on them to protect that information.
He stressed that the genuine inputs of stakeholders to the final draft of the said documents are very crucial to the security of one’s information, as it will not allow people to have access to the personal details of other people without their consent.
” No one is allowed to access someone’s information without his/her consent….and this is what NCRA wants to do now-so that our information will be protected,” he said.
PC Bai Bureh Sallu Lugbu commended the NCRA and its development partners for organizing the stakeholders consultative meeting as such engagement will give them the opportunity to express their views/opinions on the draft documents before taking to parliament.
“The Bill cannot go to parliament to be passed without our approval or without consulting us. We will challenge it if they do that. But they are here today to show that we give them the approval,” PC Bai Bureh Sallu Lugbu stated.
Representing the Provincial Secretary Northwest, Prince Soriba, Assistant Provincial Secretary’s office, Alkali A. Kamara described the meetings as a form of good governance to make a law that will protect their Data.
He acknowledged that the NCRA has done immensely in the collection of the personal details of people living in Sierra Leone by keeping that information safe and secured.
He encouraged participants to make meaningful inputs that will be reflected in the final document.
Chairman of the Stakeholders Consultative Meeting in the Northwest Region, Acting Deputy Director of Admin. of NCRA, Abraham Turay gave a background of the nationwide stakeholders consultation.
He said it was important to collect data and to also protect it but there was no law to regulate how to handle and share it.
Mr. Turay said the absence of a Data protection law in Sierra Leone was 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, Augustine Sengbe Marrah 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.
Barrister Agustine Sengbe 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 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.
He revealed that countries that did not set up new bodies to protect and regulate data are grappling with many challenges to be able to work effectively.
He emphasized that funding may be a concern to set up a new body, but it was preferable to have a new body to protect and regulate the proper use of the personal details of people.
Deputy Director of Legal Affairs at NCRA, Martha Lawalli gave the vote of thanks.
The nationwide Stakeholders Consultative sessions were very interactive and participatory.
©IEC DIRECTORATE, NCRA