The Minister for Africa, James Duddridge (MP), has registered the United Kingdom Government’s appreciation to President Julius Maada Bio and the Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, for their commitment towards repealing Part V of the 1965 Public Order Act and also passing into law the new Independent Media Commission Act.
This was communicated to the Government of Sierra Leone through the Minister of Foreign Affairs in a letter dated 30th July 2020.
Duddridge described the effort of the government as an excellent achievement for the people of Sierra Leone and an important step forward for media freedom and human rights in the country, saying they know it to be the lifeblood of a flourishing democracy, and also crucial in the era of COVID-19.
“I am delighted that British officials were able to assist this process by providing technical assistance and sharing expertise with a broad range of stakeholders, to support the government of Sierra Leone to deliver this key pledge,” Duddridge noted.
He particularly commended Minister Swaray’s show of true leadership and determination in navigating the intricacies of the long but worthwhile process, for which he should be warmly congratulated.
He pledged his government’s commitment to continue to work closely with the Minister of Information and the Government of Sierra Leone on media freedom. “I understand that we have a range of technical support planned for the coming month aimed at increasing crucial access to trusted, inclusive and independent media in Sierra Leone,” he said.
James Duddridges disclosed that as the UK government moves forward with the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (bringing together expertise from two departments to deliver their diplomatic and development priorities), they will continue to work closely with the Government of Sierra Leone to support their shared aims of strengthening democracy, building human capital to underpin development, and working towards shared prosperity.
He concluded by reassuring the Government of Sierra Leone that the UK government will maintain its commitment to spending 0.7% of Gross National Income as Official Development Assistance.