Saturday, October 1, 2011

Landmark regional declaration paves way for access to information

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - Cape Town 21.09.2011 - ARTICLE 19 welcomes the recent adoption of the African Platform on Access to Information Declaration (APAI). The APAI was released at the inaugural Pan African Conference on Access to Information, held between 17 - 19th September 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa. The landmark declaration was drafted by nine African groups working on freedom of expression, access to information, and the media, including ARTICLE 19.

The Declaration sets out 14 principles focusing on African-related issues which elaborate the right of access to information, including access to information by disadvantaged communities and coverage of issues related to health, education, aid transparency, and corruption. The APAI provides guidance to countries for the enactment and implementation of access to information laws and makes requests to governments, international bodies and others on promoting the right of access to information, including formal recognition of 28 September at International Right to Information Day. The Declaration is also being submitted to UNESCO and the African Union (AU), and other international bodies. for adoption.

"The African Platform on Access to Information Declaration and conference marks great progress in Government officials and members of civil society working together to chart a way forward for access to information on the continent. Continued collaboration is imperative to realise the adoption of access laws and principles at national levels," said Fatou Jagne-Senghor, ARTICLE 19 West Africa representative.

"As we celebrate the adoption of this landmark regional declaration, let us keep in mind that the real work of adoption into national laws and principles must begin now in order to assure the implementation of access to information principles across the continent," said Henry Maina, ARTICLE 19 East Africa Director.

The APAI was adopted at the closing ceremony of the Conference and signed by Frank La Rue, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Faith Pansy Tlakula, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Hon Norris Tweah, Liberian Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, and representatives of major media and human rights groups, among other delegates in attendance.

ARTICLE 19 invites all advocates of Access to Information from Africa and beyond, individuals and organisations to support this Declaration and work towards its implementation by National Governments.

IFEX members involved in the APAI Working Group include Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and ARTICLE 19. IFEX members that were partners in the process include Freedom House and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

Click here to access the APAI


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