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Monday, May 7, 2012

Advance right to access information in Africa: APAI

A coalition of human rights agencies Wednesday called on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ACHPR, to advance the right to access to information in Africa. 

The African Platform on Access to Information, APAI, an intercontinental initiative to promote access to Information on the continent, took the campaign a step further in its address to the 51st session of the ACHPR in Banjul, The Gambia (April 18 – May 2, 2012).

They urge the Commission to recognise September 28th as International Right to Know day, as well as for an expansion of article IV of the Declaration of Principles of Expression in Africa to incorporate the principles of the African Platform on Access to Information Declaration.

The APAI group’s submission followed the report by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Adv. Pansy Tlakula. 

In her report, Tlakula bemoaned the slow pace at which states on the Continent were enacting Access to Information legislation, and urged the commission to recall Resolution 167 which it passed in April 2010.
Resolution 167 calls for the more effective realization of Access to Information in Africa.

The APAI working group (MISA, AFIC, ARTICLE 19, IFJ, TAEF, MRA, MFWA, ODAC, and Highway Africa) reiterated the Special Rapporteur’s concerns, whilst pointing out the lack of effective implementation by countries with Access to Information laws. 

2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa. “The anniversary of the declaration presents an opportunity to assess the development of the right to Freedom of Expression and Access to Information on the Continent,” APAI said.

The group, encouraged by a resolution from the preceding NGO forum, attended by hundreds of civil society organisations, exhorts the ACHPR to:

“Pass a resolution authorizing the ACHPR Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa to expand Part IV of the Declaration of Freedom of Expression in Africa to include principles of APAI Declaration.

Pass a resolution requesting the AU Heads of State Summit of January 2012 to adopt September 28 as an International Right to Information Day.

Urge AU member states to adopt and implement national Access to Information laws that comply with the APAI Declaration and the model law on ATI developed by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Information in Africa.
 
Pass a resolution requesting the African Union Summit of January 2012 to initiate an Experts meeting to develop a continental wide instrument on the right of Access to Information.”

Free expression panel @ NGOs Forum, Banjul-Gambia
It is hoped that the Commission will show its support to the campaign by adopting the resolution and taking the declaration forward to the next AU summit in July 2012.

Author:  Modou S. Joof




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