A frontpage commentary by Francis Turay
The Census Act, 2002 is an Act that’s legislated to provide for the taking of the census from time to time and other related matters.
This document gives guides on who, how, where and when a census can be conducted, as they are demystified in the various sections in the Act.
It’s noteworthy to know that since the announcement of the Mid-Term Census by the government, a lot of debates have been ongoing among citizens and several views have been shared on the subject matter.
First of the many issues was whether or not a census can be conducted amidst the fact that we have been only conducting censuses after a decade.
Secondly, whether or not citizens can be forced to be counted, and what will be the outcome if one chooses not to be counted.
Thirdly, whether or not an enumerator has the power to enter your premises to conduct his work as mandated by the Chief Census Officer, through Statistics Sierra Leone.
Let’s Take A Look At What The Law Says.
Concerning the first issue, the Act makes provision under section 2, as it provides that the President may direct a national census on the advice of the Minister (Minister of Development), by order made by statutory instrument. In as much the conduct of a population census is said by many to be conducted after a decade, the Act gives the President the power to order one through a statutory instrument which will be taken to Parliament for a debate.
On the second issue, yes, one can be compelled to comply with an enumerator and in refusal to do so, the Act makes provision under section 14(2) that where are household head or a person deputizing him refuses or without lawful excuse neglects to answer questions posed to him by the enumerator or wherein when asked, provides false information concerning the questionnaire, that person shall be guilty of an offense and shall for each such offense be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding Fifty Thousand Leones. It’s to be also noted that the Act stipulates under section 15 with regards to obstruction. The said section provides that any person that hinders or obstructs the Chief Census Officer or other such persons employed during the execution of their performance of any lawful exercise, shall be guilty of an offense and be liable to a summary conviction to a fine not exceeding Fifty Thousand Leones.
On the last issue, the Census Act under section 11 confers power on enumerators who produce an identification card and is employed to carry out functions in the Act may enter any premises at any reasonable hour in performance of their duties.
Reiterating a popular quote “the law is what it’s and not what it ought to be”, as to the provisions stated out in the Census Act, 2002.