By Adama Tine
It was a very interesting and receptive discussion at the National Assembly on Tuesday as lawmakers debated the Access to Information Bill 2019, which is purposely to make information accessible to every person in the Gambia, adjourning it to next week Tuesday for a second reading.
The principal intention of the Bill is to make information accessible to everyone in the Gambia including students, researchers, journalists and also to place an obligation on public bodies and private organizations that deal with public funds so that whenever information is requested the information holder provides it.
It was revealed that the Bill if it becomes law will place penalty to anyone who violates the Access to Information Act and the penalties include a fine of between D50,000 to D250,000 or an imprisonment of a term between 6 months and 1 year.
If the Bill becomes law, it will also establish an information commission that deals with matters that have to do with Access to Information as it will encourage accountability and transparency within the government and also encourage the public to participate in matters of public concern.
Dawda Jallow, Attorney General and Minister of Justice said custodians of these information are public servants therefore, they can be charged under an offense and convicted even if they deem the punishment to be light by the virtue of the conviction they will lose their job because it is a criminal conviction.