A four-day training for 50 civil society activists on the Framework for the Implementation of the Access to Information Act, 2021 organized by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in collaboration with the Gambia Press Union (GPU) opens today.
Facilitated by the Gambia Press Union, the sessions with civil society activities forms part of a series of trainings to be conducted over a month targeting CSOs, journalists, government information officers, permanent secretaries, and heads of ministerial departments and agencies (MDAs).
These various groups will be trained on the law and exposed to the tools of the newly developed implementation framework, GPU’s Secretary General, Modou Joof, said.
The training of CSOs is being conducted in two sets of 25 and two days for each set from Monday 15, January to Thursday 18, January 2024.
It is meant to improve knowledge and understanding of the provisions of the Access to Information Act, 2021, and for CSOs to be make informed choices on issues related to the law including its enforcement.
“This training is meant for CSOs to know and understand the ATI Implementation Framework and the tools it provides to facilitate access to information from public bodies and relevant private entities,” Joof said.
The framework provides the guidance for the implementation of the law and the tools to request information from public bodies and relevant private entities.
Lala Touray, Senior Program Officer of NDI, said the training forms part of NDI’s ongoing support to the Gambia Government to help operationalise the access to information law.
“It also provides the tools for requesters of information to appeal against refusals of their requests,” Ms. Touray said. “Once trained, civil society activists would also be able to create public awareness on how to use the tools in the Implementation Framework to request information and the redress mechanisms available.”
The overall objective of the training is to help the implementation of the law and to increase transparency and accountability in The Gambia – with modules focusing on the Act meant to build a broad understanding of the legal framework and the obligations it places on the government and its institutions, as well as other entities undertaking public functions or services supported by public funds.
The development of the Framework by the Ministry of Information was supported by NDI. The Framework covers guidelines on the following:
- classification of documents by public bodies,
- submission of implementation plans,
- the designation of information officers & deputy information officers,
- the development of information manuals,
- filing of request for information,
- request for access to information forms,
- fees chargeable for reproduction of requests, and forms for review of requests,
- processes of appeal to the Information Commission,
- requests related to safeguarding the life or liberty of a person,
- annual reports, and proactive disclosure reports.
The second set of Civil Society Activists will be trained from 17-18 January, 2023.