A delegation from the Parliament of Sierra Leone has completed a study visit to Tynwald in a move to strengthen its research capacity.
Sponsored by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), established to help to support parliamentary democracy in developing countries, the two-day programme was arranged by the Clerk of Tynwald’s Office for the four-strong delegation who were accompanied by WFD’s programme officer for Africa Charlotte Egan.
The visit builds on links forged in 2016 in response to a WFD needs assessment review, which saw two Parliament of Sierra Leone staff members seconded to Tynwald to undergo two weeks of training in the production of Hansard reports.
The relationship developed in 2017 after the Westminster Foundation for Democracy commissioned the Head of Chamber and Information Service Ruth Donnelly and Hansard team member Deborah Pilkington to travel to Sierra Leone to provide follow-up support.
Head of the delegation and director of the Parliament of Sierra Leone’s library, research and documentation department Muctarr Sowa said: ‘After the need was identified to develop our parliamentary service commission, especially in light of the growing number of Private Members’ Bills, there has been a drive to recruit key personnel to the research department, a process which is bringing about dramatic change to our operation.
‘Many of our Members are new and inexperienced, so they need the support of a strong evidence-based research unit to serve the people of Sierra Leone to the best of their ability; we believe this will also help to boost our legislators’ credibility.
‘Our research service is in its infancy stage. We are starting small but in the longer term we hope to expand, with quality always our focus. This Tynwald capacity-building programme has been very valuable. We will be sharing what we have learned with our colleagues with the ultimate goal of being able to stand on our own and operate as an independent research department supporting Members in their legislative work.’
The Parliament of Sierra Leone delegation of Mohammed Jalloh, Muctarr Sowa, Idrissa Kamara and Yirah Mansary are pictured with Head of Hansard Ellen Callister, WFD programme manager for Africa Charlotte Egan and Chamber and Information Executive Andy Cooke. Photo Paul Dougherty