WHAT DOES THE CONSTITUTION SAY ABOUT FREEDOM OF INFORMATION?

QUESTION OF THE DAY

The Constitution of The Gambia does not declare access to information a fundamental right but it does give support to the idea of access to information.

It is spelt out in the preamble of the Constitution that,

“This constitution provides for us a fundamental law, which affirms our commitment to freedom, justice, probity and accountability. It also affirms the principle that all power emanate from the sovereign will of the people.”

Clearly, where probity and accountability flourish there can be no room for secret government or hoarding of information; transparency becomes the necessary outcome.

Furthermore how else can the people exercise their sovereignty if they cannot scrutinise their government and hold them accountable. The empowerment of the people is buttressed by section 1 of the Constitution which states:

“The Sovereignty of The Gambia resides in the people of The Gambia from whom all organs of government derive their authority and in whose name and for whose welfare and prosperity the power of government are to be exercised in accordance with this constitution.”

The Constitution does order the government to be transparent. It stipulates under section 214 subsection (5) of the Constitution that,

The Governmentwith due regard to the principles of an open and democratic society, shall foster accountability and transparency at all levels of Government.”

What is now left is legislation for access to information to become a fundamental law to enable citizens to exercise that right.