(Kenema City, 14 October 2021) The National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) has held a stakeholders consultative meeting on the proposed draft Bill on Data Protection Policy and Regulations at Paloma Guest House Hall in Kenema City, Eastern Sierra Leone.
The stakeholders’ consultative sessions which had started in the Western Area Urban of Freetown 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 institutions, Civil Society, the security forces etc in the Eastern Region.
The participants overwhelmingly supported the setting up of a new entity that will be responsible for Data Protection Policy and Data Regulations. They agreed that the new body should be called the National Commission for Data Protection (NCDP).
Welcoming participants at the meeting, the Paramount Chief of Nongowa Chiefdom, PC S.M. Kapuwa-Matoe IV stressed that Data is very important and it should be the responsibility of everybody to protect his/her personal data.
He informed stakeholders that the Government of Sierra Leone collects lot of data that was why it became pertinent to set up a central body like the NCRA to store the personal data of people living in Sierra Leone.
Paramount Chief S.M. Kapuwa-Matoe IV also stressed that an individual’s entry point to get citizenship begins with the registration of his or her personal data at birth.
He added the creation of the National Identification Number (NIN) was very much vital as it has helped Government to reduce identity fraud because data of people will now be stored in one place that cannot be tampered with easily.
He also said various institutions can request for NIN to be able to know the identity of their clients or customers.
PC Kapuwa-Matoe IV emphasized that Data Protection is necessary as it prevents a third party from gaining access to it.
He encouraged the participants to make very meaningful inputs during the consultation.
Launching the Stakeholders Consultative Meeting and declaring it opened on behalf of President Julius Maada Bio, the Resident Minister East, Andrew Ansu Fatorma, stated the identity of people will continue to be at risk if it is not protected.
He therefore called on the participants to put every effort in the consultation process to produce a good Bill that will stand the test of time.
The Resident Minister East revealed that some people are in the habit of falsifying their dates of births regularly and as a result, most of them died in office even after passing non-official retirement age.
The Resident Minister attributed the perpetual falsification of birth certificates to absence of people’s data not being protected.
He disclosed that in order to know the personal details of people who travel outside their country, the immigration officers in that country request for the traveler’s passport to enable them know their personal details.
He urged them not to politicize the issue and it should be done in the interest of the people of this country.
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 noted the NCRA’s mandate is to collect data and share it for useful purposes.
Mr. Sosoekoneh 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 described Data Protection as 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 enhance and promote the work of NCRA.
Director Sosokonneh further said the stakeholder’s 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 exhorted.
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 expressed deep delight at the way participants participated and interacted during the consultation session which he described as “the best so far”.
Also present at the stakeholders consultative meeting were the Assistant Secretary, Amara S. Conteh who represented the Provincial Secretary East, Andrew J. Fofanah, while the Senior Management Specialist in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mohamed G. Yokie Esq represented the Minister of Internal Affairs, Panda Noah.
The Deputy Director of Communications at the Ministry of Information and Communication, James Kanja Cobba was chairman of the stakeholders Consultative meeting.
From Kenema, sessions will continue in the Headquarters town of Bo, Makeni and Portloko Districts.
©IEC DIRECTORATE, NCRA