State House, Freetown, Thursday 4 February 2021 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio today received the 2019-2020 annual report from Ombudsman Leon Jenkins-Johnston Esq and assured of his support to the institution’s independence and operations.
“My Government has supported the legal rights to government information, repealed obnoxious laws that proscribe free speech, and made transparency an administrative norm. These and my Government’s support for the work of the Ombudsman clearly serve the public interest, strengthen our public institutions, and further consolidate a more inclusive democracy, he said.
President Bio also noted the challenges highlighted by the Ombudsman, including the issues of capacity, financial, logistical and other needs contained in the report, and assured him that government would address them because the institution was invaluable to the country’s development.
He said he was further gratified at the restatement by Mr. Jenkins-Johnston Esq of their values of being independent, collaborative, accessible, fair, impartial, just, transparent, reliable, and effective in resolving disputes as well as identifying and addressing attendant structural problems in public administration.
“So, I see the Office of the Ombudsman as a key institution for strengthening and reinvigorating our democracy. Along with the other institutions like the Ministry of Justice, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Human Rights Commission (HRCSL), I see the Office of the Ombudsman as a bulwark for institutional integrity and accountability.
“Be reminded that there may be overlaps in mandate every so often. A complaint against an MDA may constitute an offence in the ACC act or an abuse of rights for the HRCSL. So, map out areas of cooperation and work closely for the good of our citizens and our democracy,” he emphasised.
According to the report, from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, 484 complaints were lodged with the Office of the Ombudsman against various Ministries, Departments and Agencies, with 246 lodged at the Head Office in Freetown, 121 in Bo, 71 in Kenema, 16 in Makeni and 30 in Port Loko. 329 have been concluded so far.
The Office of the Ombudsman receives, investigates, mediates and resolves complaints laid against administrative decisions, malpractices of the public sector, institutions of higher learning set entirely or partly out of public funds.
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