By Amin Kef (Ranger)
Well-known Legal Practitioner, Augustine Sorie-Sengbe Marrah Esq., has formally petitioned the Right to Access Information Commission on the 22nd August, 2023, seeking a comprehensive review of the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone’s (ECSL) refusal to provide requested information. The request pertains to certified and verified district-level results of the Presidential, Local and General Elections conducted on June 24, 2023.
In a strongly worded letter, dated July 28, 2023, Marrah invoked Section 2(1) of the Right to Access Information Act 2013 to solicit information from ECSL, particularly concerning the possession of the sixteen districts’ certified summary results by respective District Returning Officers in accordance with Section 92(1) of the Public Elections Act 2022.
Additionally, he sought details regarding the verification process of these results by political parties’ agents, along with access granted to counting agents and observers, as specified by Section 92(2) of the Public Elections Act 2022.
The letter, which was addressed to the Right to Access Information Commission in light of its supervisory role, highlighted ECSL’s statutory obligation to respond within fifteen days, as stipulated by Section 4 of the Right to Access Information Act 2013. However, the deadline expired on August 18, 2023, without any communication or response from ECSL.
Marrah has interpreted ECSL’s silence as a deliberate refusal to fulfill his information request. Subsequently, invoking the provisions of Section 43 of the Right to Access Information Act 2013, Marrah has formally sought the Right to Access Information Commission’s intervention. He requests an impartial review of ECSL’s decision to deny or neglect to confirm the availability of the requested information or to grant access to the same.
The Right to Access Information Commission, empowered by law to monitor and report on public authorities’ adherence to the Right to Access Information legislation, is expected to undertake this review within the stipulated legal timeframe.
Augustine S. Marrah’s fervent request for a review of ECSL’s actions underscores the critical importance of transparency and accountability in electoral processes, a sentiment central to the foundations of democratic governance.