By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
Chozen Generation Sierra Leone (GCSL), one of the leading Youth organizations in the country has last Friday 2nd September, announced that in the next three months , they will focus on strengthening the capacity of journalists, bloggers and youth activists on digital rights reporting and advocacy in Sierra Leone.
The announcement came following the organization’s winning of a grant of U$D 9,950 from the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) to continue its digital rights advocacy in Sierra Leone in the context of the Africa Digital Rights Fund (ADRF).
“CGSL is one of 13 entities from the continent to secure a grant in the fifth round of the Fund this year,’’ CGSL said in a statement.
CGSL said they will specifically train selected beneficiaries on the recently passed Cyber security and Cybercrime Act as well as on the Right to Access Information Act, which was passed in 2013, supposedly to promote the public’s ‘right to know’ within the context of press freedom.
According to the CGSL, whilst a growing number of the country’s population is now surfing the internet, Sierra Leone still lacks a law which specifically addresses data privacy and protection adding that this gap undermines consumer protection and potentially opens the door for data exploitation.
‘’In the same vein, the Right to Access Information Act has not resulted in significant improvement in accessing information. The recently passed Cyber security Act which is now awaiting presidential assent is an important piece of digital rights legislation. However, a survey by a respected local think-tank revealed that only about 29% of citizens had heard about the proposed law which, among other things, seeks to regulate social media and address some of the challenges with cyber security,’’ CGSL added
This low awareness by citizens of these laws, some of which, critics argue contains provisions that amount to a full-scale crackdown on freedom of expression online is a source of concern. “The lack of awareness by citizens means these laws are largely underutilized or used by rogue officials to suppress citizens” CGSL National Coordinator, Joel Abdulai Kallon said.
CGSL believes that it is therefore absolutely necessary to analyze the said law and train journalists and youth activists on some of its major provisions to encourage more engagement and advocacy stating that there is need for more public education in order to ensure that every Sierra Leonean enjoys the benefit of these contemporary legislations.
Chozen Generation is a community of professionals who are making a difference in Sierra Leone through the use of technology and sound leadership. We emphasize the importance of innovation, hard work, integrity and accountability for effective leadership. Our mission is to empower youths nationwide through the provision of relevant training opportunities, mentoring, coaching and networking support.