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Sierra Leone

Open Parliament (SL0028)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Sierra Leone Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Office of the Clerk of Parliament

Support Institution(s): Parliament of Sierra Leone specifically; - Departments: Information and Research Services (Public Relations, ICT, Research and Library) Finance (Parliamentary Budget Office) - Committees: Public Account, Transparency and Accountability, Finance, Legislative and Education. National Council for Civic Education and Development (NaCCED), Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD)  Campaign for Good Governance (CGG)  Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues (SLUDI)  OGP Steering Committee  OGP Multi Stakeholders Group

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Gender, Marginalized Communities, Open Parliaments, Participation in Lawmaking, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Sierra Leone Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
The Government of Sierra Leone has demonstrated
a strong desire to implement Open Government
Partnership (OGP) Commitments, as demonstrated
through the National Council for Civic Education and
Development identifying and adopting OGP as a
strategic pillar. Yet the Sierra Leone Parliament is
not playing a key role within the OGP process. It is
assumed that without Parliament’s commitment and
support in the process it will be challenging for many
of the OGP commitments to be fully implemented
and there will continue to be challenges in achieving
the Sustainable Development Goals. For instance,
Parliament currently has very limited platforms to
engage with citizens and CSOs and the Parliament
is yet to provide annual reports on their operations to
demonstrate leadership in accountability and
transparency as regards lawmaking processes,
oversight, and representation.

What is the commitment?
The commitment entails action that will enable
Parliament to become more open and transparent
to its citizens and effectively collaborate with other
actors in dispensing its functions as enshrined in
the Constitution of Sierra Leone.
Outcome 1: More open, responsive democratic
institution with increased civil society’s
engagement, the following are expected progress
markers:
- Parliament working group commits to
conduct oversight on the implementation of
the National Action Plan
- Parliament implement and monitor the
developed mechanisms for citizens’
participation in the legislative and budgeting
process.
- Parliament to produce annual reports on all
its activities in an accessible formats
(including special needs group) and publish
in the parliamentary website.
- Parliament to hold consultations and
hearings with civil society organizations on the budgeting process, implementation,
critical public policy issues and the Auditor
General’s Report for constructive inputs and
feedback.
Outcome 2: Greater access and inclusion of
women and marginalized groups and informal
political participation, the following are expected
progress markers:
- Develop a Gender and Equity Compliance
Checklist that will be utilized by Government
functionaries including political parties.
- Percentage increase in women and members
of marginalized groups contesting for
leadership positions in formal political
institutions in Sierra Leone
- Parliament to assess budgeting allocation
and approval based on the submission of
Gender and Equity Compliance Certificate to
ascertain that such body meets the
benchmarks set justifying the level of
accessibility and benefit received by
marginalized groups through government
programmes.How will the commitment
contribute to solving the
public problem
Three key approaches will be utilised in the
implementation of this programme and these are:
1. Capacity building of critical Committees
(Transparency and Accountability, Public
Accounts, Finance Committee, Legislative
and Education Committees) that will
establish Parliament’s leadership in OGP
and capacitating MPs and ‘OGP Working
Group’ as ‘champion’ in applying the OGP
principles in the delivery of their work.
2. Supporting inclusive mechanisms in
Parliament using an integrated approach
(we will be utilizing variety of resources for
different interventions as a way of inspiring
growth and positive output).
3. Building a network of marginalised
groups promoting OGP in local
communities and linking the work of
marginalized groups to Parliament which
includes women and the disability
community.

Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
If the Sierra Leone Parliament embraces the OGP
principles in an inclusive way – through working in
alignment at both the national and community levels
with women, youths and other politically
marginalized groups - OGP can be used as a tool to
aid the Sierra Leone Parliament to carry out its
legislative, oversight and representative roles to
ensure better service delivery and enhanced
representation, accountability and transparency.
Additional Information An ad hoc Parliamentary committee, the OGP
Parliamentary Working Group, has been set as a
permanent committee to champion open
government issues in all Parliamentary proceedings
going forward. In addition, Parliament has
partnered with the National Council for Civic
Education and Development to undertake
constituency town hall meetings so as to keep
constituents abreast of proceedings in Parliament.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

7. Open Parliament

Main Objective

The commitment entails action that will enable Parliament to become more open and transparent to its citizens and effectively collaborate with other actors in dispensing its functions as enshrined in the Constitution of Sierra Leone.

Outcome 1: More open, responsive democratic institution with increased civil society’s engagement, the following are expected progress markers:

- Parliament working group commits to conduct oversight on the implementation of the National Action Plan

- Parliament implement and monitor the developed mechanisms for citizens’ participation in the legislative and budgeting process.

- Parliament to produce annual reports on all its activities in an accessible format (including special needs group) and publish in the parliamentary website.

- Parliament to hold consultations and hearings with civil society organizations on

the budgeting process, implementation, critical public policy issues and the Auditor General’s Report for constructive inputs and feedback.

Outcome 2: Greater access and inclusion of women and marginalized groups and informal political participation, the following are expected progress markers:

- Develop a Gender and Equity Compliance Checklist that will be utilized by Government functionaries including political parties.

- Percentage increase in women and members of marginalized groups contesting for leadership positions in formal political institutions in Sierra Leone

- Parliament to assess budgeting allocation and approval based on the submission of Gender and Equity Compliance Certificate to ascertain that such body meets the benchmarks set justifying the level of accessibility and benefit received by marginalized groups through government programmes.

Milestones

  • Updating of the parliamentary Annual Performance Plan to enhance citizens’ engagement in the business of Parliament (Legislature and oversight)
  • Institute half yearly platform for CSO and Parliament to interact on various national issues
  • Establish and train OGP working group to act as Parliamentary champions to ensure parliamentary openness and access to information
  • Parliament shall develop annual report and ensure proactive publication of these materials to the public in an accessible format
  • Access to parliament for persons with disability through a provision of a ramp and sign language interpretation (for major debates) to ensure all citizens are given due consideration in terms of availability of space, safety and protocols
  • Parliament shall erect a service charter in 5 strategic locations and use of other media platforms (online, radio, TV) to enhance public knowledge on their mandates and services

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Sierra Leone’s action plan at (https://bit.ly/3bPiqwh).

IRM Design Report Assessment

Verifiable:

Yes

Relevant:

Civic participation, Access to Information

Potential impact:

Moderate

Commitment Analysis

This commitment aims to open Parliament by increasing access to information and strengthening mechanisms for civic participation, with a particular focus on women and marginalized groups. [88] Sierra Leone is a democracy with a parliament consisting of 132 Members of Parliament (MPs), elected on the basis of the first-past-the-post system. However, the platforms for citizens to engage in the work of Parliament to support openness, transparency, and accountability are currently very limited. For example, Sierra Leone’s participation in initiatives such as the Open Budget Survey have confirmed that opportunities for public participation in legislative components of the budgetary process in Sierra Leone are low, with no or very little public participation during the approval and implementation stages. [89] The lack of mechanisms for participative democracy disproportionately impacts women, as women’s voices are already underrepresented in Parliament (only 12.3 percent female seats in 2018, the comparative average for Sub-Saharan Africa is 23.5 percent). [90] The lack of platforms for civic engagement also hampers the Sierra Leonean Parliament from playing a key role in the OGP process. [91]

The commitment seeks to open Parliament by developing instruments that provide information on, and account for the work of, Parliament (updating the Annual Performance Plan, publishing an annual report in an accessible format, and publicizing a Parliamentary Service Charter); establishing a standing platform for CSO-parliamentary engagement; making the physical parliamentary space more accessible for persons with disabilities; and training an OGP parliamentary working group to serve as an institutional mechanism to promote OGP values in Parliament.

This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information, as it provides for open access to previously unavailable information on the Sierra Leone Parliament in the form of the Parliamentary Service Charter and the annual report. It is also relevant to the OGP value of civic participation, as a standing platform for CSO-parliamentary engagement and making the parliamentary space more accessible for persons with disabilities enhances opportunities for citizens to have their voices heard.

At the time of the design of the commitment, Sierra Leone’s 1991 Constitution did not provide for civic participation mechanisms over and above the direct election of MPs. For example, while the Constitution prescribes a variety of Standing Committees, whose function it is to oversee the activities and administration of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, [92] there is no provision for citizens or CSOs to make submissions to, or appear before such parliamentary committees. There was also limited disclosure of the business of Parliament, which contributed to a misunderstanding of the role of MPs. [93]

If fully implemented as written, the potential impact of this commitment is likely to be moderate. The commitment is verifiable, but fails to identify milestones necessary for achieving the second outcome of ensuring greater access and inclusion of women and marginalized groups. The commitment represents a step forward in opening Parliament, as the baseline for access to information and civic participation is currently low. [94] However, it remains limited in scale and scope for the following reasons:

  • There is no commitment to the open publication of the Parliamentary Annual Performance Plan.
  • Publication of the annual report and Parliamentary Service Charter will not necessarily lead to greater civic participation.
  • Other than the half-yearly platforms for CSO-parliamentary engagement, there is no commitment to reforming the operational space of Parliament to promote substantive citizen engagement with the budgetary and legislative processes. Such reforms could include, for example, publication of the status of all bills currently before the Parliament and their status, provision for citizens to make formal comments on draft legislation, opportunities for citizens to make submissions to and appear before Standing Parliamentary Committees, and publication of the minutes of Standing Committees.
  • It is not clear how the parliamentary OGP working group will interact with the OGP Steering Committee to serve as “parliamentary champions” of the OGP process.
[88] Sierra Leone’s OGP Action Plan, 2019–2021, Open Government Partnership, https://bit.ly/3bPiqwh.
[89] “Open Budget Survey 2019: Sierra Leone”, International Budget, https://www.internationalbudget.org/open-budget-survey/country-results/2019/sierra-leone.
[90] “Inequalities in development in the 21st century: Briefing note for countries on the 2019 Human Development Report: Sierra Leone”, UNDP, p. 5, http://hdr.undp.org/sites/all/themes/hdr_theme/country-notes/SLE.pdf.
[91] Sierra Leone’s OGP Action Plan, 2019–2021, Open Government Partnership, https://bit.ly/3bPiqwh.
[92] Section 93.1, Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991.
[93] Ms. Marcella Samba-Sesay, Civil Society Chair of the OGP Steering Committee, interview with IRM researcher conducted on 20 June 2020.
[94] Ms. Marcella Samba-Sesay, Civil Society Chair of the OGP Steering Committee, interview with IRM researcher conducted on 20 June 2020.

Commitments

  1. Expanding Community-Based Justice Services

    SL0022, 2019, Access to Justice

  2. Improving Access to Secondary School

    SL0023, 2019, Education

  3. Tax System Transparency

    SL0024, 2019, Fiscal Openness

  4. Beneficial Ownership Registry

    SL0025, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  5. Improve Implementation of Right to Access to Information

    SL0026, 2019, Access to Information

  6. Advancing Gender Equality

    SL0027, 2019, Access to Justice

  7. Open Parliament

    SL0028, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Records and Archives Management

    SL0029, 2019, Access to Information

  9. Gender

    SL0012, 2016, Capacity Building

  10. Foreign Aid Transparency

    SL0013, 2016, Access to Information

  11. Waste Management

    SL0014, 2016, Capacity Building

  12. Fiscal Transparency and Open Budget

    SL0015, 2016, Access to Information

  13. Audit Report

    SL0016, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  14. Climate Change

    SL0017, 2016, Access to Information

  15. Elections

    SL0018, 2016, Access to Information

  16. Record Archive Management

    SL0019, 2016, Access to Information

  17. Access to Justice

    SL0020, 2016, Access to Justice

  18. Open Public Procurement Contracting

    SL0021, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  19. Publish and Revise 70% of Mining and Agricultural Lease Agreements and Contracts

    SL0009, 2014, Access to Information

  20. Starred commitment Right to Access Information Law

    SL0010, 2014, Access to Information

  21. Open Data Portal for Transparency in Fiscal and Extractive Transactions

    SL0011, 2014, Access to Information

  22. Public Integrity Pact with 5 Ministries, Departments, and Agencies

    SL0001, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  23. Archives and Records Management Act

    SL0002, 2014, Access to Information

  24. Scale up Performance Management and Service Delivery Directorate

    SL0003, 2014, Public Participation

  25. Compliance with Audit Measures

    SL0004, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  26. Starred commitment Single Treasure Account

    SL0005, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  27. Extractive Industry Revenue Act

    SL0006, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  28. Scaling up Extractive Industry Transparency Initiatives

    SL0007, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  29. Local Content Policy (LCP) Linkages with MDAs

    SL0008, 2014, Capacity Building

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