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ESARBICA Journal: Journal of the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives

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The Role of Archives in Enhancing Accountability and Transparency – The Case of Sierra Leone

P Svärd

Abstract




This paper explores the role of archives in the promotion of accountability and transparency in post-conflict societies by focussing on a case study of Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone was engulfed in a destructive civil war in the 1990\'s. Since the end of the war in 2002, the government of Sierra Leone and the international community have been involved in the process of peace building, national reconciliation and reconstruction. This paper argues that access to public records is a right for citizens in a democratic society in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Human Rights Declaration. The paper further demonstrates that the enlightenment of a society through access to information is a vital key to peace and development. The state of the Archives in Sierra Leone poses challenges for peace and
reconciliation. In order to promote the democratisation of information, the national archives will need to be rehabilitated. This is important for peace building, democratic governance and the creation of an engaged civil society and a vibrant public sphere. The paper further
addresses the importance of archives in safeguarding the rights of the people in order to create a firm foundation for a democratic society. Information is empowerment and that is why repressive governments misinform the electorate or withhold information from it. The paper also argues that the role played by archivists in government institutions in the West is relevant to the challenges facing the proper documentation and maintenance of government archives in Africa.

Keywords: Accountability, Archives, Civil War, Sierra Leone

ESARBICA Vol. 27 2008: pp. 20-38



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