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Peter Kuthan / AZFA
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« on: March 18 2013 »

The African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) welcomes the adoption of the African Union’s “Model Law on Access to Information for Africa” by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, along with the news that Rwanda has become the 11th country in Africa to adopt an Access to Information law, indicating the increasing significance of Access to information on the African continent.

The model law, which is intended to guide African States on the adoption of ATI legislation, as well as provide benchmarks for their ‘effective implementation’ was adopted at an extraordinary session of the ACHPR on February 25th 2013.  It is hoped that this significant event will encourage Governments throughout the region to draft and enact Access to Information legislation in accordance with regional best practice.   

Just two weeks after the adoption of the Model law, on March 11th 2013, Rwanda formally gazetted its ATI law, indicating its Governments commitment to ensure that its citizens can fully realize their right of access to information. The law has been hailed as progressive with provisions applying to relevant private bodies, as well as good provisions on public interest override and fees.

The new law brings the total number of countries with ATI legislation in Africa to 11. Currently, four countries in West Africa have ATI legislation, followed by southern and eastern Africa with three each, and northern Africa with one.

The last three years alone have seen significant developments, which have changed the legislative landscape in Africa around ATI. In 2011, the number of countries with ATI laws doubled. The same year saw the adoption of the APAI declaration, as well as the largest gathering of Access to Information experts and advocates ever seen on the continent with the convening of the Pan African Conference on Access to Information held in Cape Town, South Africa, in September 2011.

In 2012, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted Resolution 222, which called for the expansion of Article 4 relating to Access to Information in the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa,  by incorporating the principles of the APAI declaration and the AU Model Law, as well as requesting AU member states to officially recognize September 28th as International Right to Information Day in Africa.

Although, it is early in 2013, it appears from the onset that 2013 is shaping up to be another significant year for ATI campaigners, with the adoption of the Model Law, as well as the passing into law of Rwanda’s ATI legislation.

Building upon such regional developments, the APAI Working Group continues to advocate at all levels - international, regional and national - for a more open and transparent Africa, and is currently advocating at the UN level for the official recognition of September 28th as International Right to Information Day.

The APAI Working Group will monitor events carefully in Rwanda, where it is hoped that the new law will be successfully implemented, in addition to monitoring the impact of the AU Model Law on the continent.

The APAI Working Group calls on the other 43 national governments in Africa that have not yet done so, to take urgent steps to adopt national Access to Information laws and give effect to the rights of their citizens to access information.

 
Notesto Editors:

Media Contact for West Africa: Fatou Jagne- Senghore- Representative, Article 19 West Africa office, Dakar, Senegal.: fatou@article19.org

Media Contact for East Africa: Gilbert Sendugwa, Coordinator and Head of Secretariat, Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC). Kampala, Uganda: gilbert@africafoicentre.org

 For more information on the campaign contact:

Karen Mohan, APAI Secretariat, Media Institute of Southern Africa, MISA Regional Secretariat, 21 Johann Albrecht Str., Windhoek, Namibia, Tel. +264 61 232975, Fax. +264 61 248016, Email: karen@misa.org,

Received via email 15 March 2013 ; www.africanplatform.org
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