The Working Group of the African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) working group has welcomed the adoption of the African Union’s “Model Law on Access to Information for Africa” by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR). APAI is also excited by 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.
This position was made known in a statement issued by the group on March 15, 2013 titled “Indications of a Brighter Future for Access to Information on the Continent”
The Model Law is intended to guide African States on the adoption of Access to Information legislation, as well as provide benchmarks for their ‘effective implementation’.
The law was adopted at an extraordinary session of the ACHPR on February 25, 2013. The group hopes that this significant event will encourage governments across the African continent to draft and enact Access to Information legislation in accordance with regional best practice.
Rwanda government showed its commitment to the Model Law by formally gazzeting its Access to Information law on March 11, 2013. This was barely two weeks after the adoption of the Model law and indicates Rwanda government’s commitment to ensure that its citizens can fully realize their right of access to information. Eleven countries now have Access to Information legislation in Africa.
The group said: “the last three years alone have seen significant developments, which have changed the legislative landscape in Africa around Access to Information.”
“In 2011, the number of countries with Access to Information laws doubled. The same year saw the adoption of the African Platform on Access to Information 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,” the group added.
The group explained that in 2012, the ACHPR 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 Access to Information campaigners, with the adoption of the Model Law, as well as the passing into law of Rwanda’s Access to Information legislation,” the group said.
The group stated: “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 be monitoring the successful implementation of the new law in Rwanda, as well as, monitoring the impact of the AU Model Law on the continent.
The APAI Working Group called on the other 43 national governments in Africa that have not enacted Access to Information Legislation, to urgently do so and give effect to the rights of their citizens to access information.
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