IFEX congratulates Edetaen Ojo and Malcolm Joseph, the leaders of IFEX member groups in Nigeria and Liberia, for winning Africa’s first awards for activism on access to information. The awards were handed out at the inaugural Pan African Conference on Access to Information, held in Cape Town, South Africa, this week, which was attended by numerous IFEX members involved in campaigning on the issue.
Ojo, the executive director of Media Rights Agenda who is also IFEX convenor, was honoured for his “tireless struggle over 15 years in advancing media and information issues,” which culminated in the historic passage of Nigeria’s Freedom of Information Act early this year.
Joseph, executive director of the Center for Media Studies and Peace-Building (CEMESP) in Liberia, was credited for his coordinating role in the campaign for Freedom of Information in Liberia, which resulted in the passage of the first Freedom of Information law in West Africa on 16 September 2010.
The third recipient was Alain Modoux, former Assistant Director-General of UNESCO, for his role in the adoption of the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press in Namibia on 3 May 1991 and his subsequent contribution to the proclamation of 3 May as World Press Freedom Day by the UN
“I have no doubt that this honour will strengthen my commitment to the freedom of information struggle. The passage of the law in Nigeria is but a small first step in ensuring the enjoyment of the right to information by ordinary Nigerians,” said Ojo.
The Pan African Conference on Access to Information, in Cape Town on 17-19 September, brought together hundreds of Africa’s media leaders, journalists and civil society members – including UN and African Union Special Rapporteurs on free expression, Frank La Rue and Pansy Tlakula, to discuss the current and future status of press freedom and access to information in Africa.
The conference led to the unanimous adoption of the landmark African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) – which establishes clear principles focusing on the right of access to information in Africa, including on issues related to health, education, aid transparency and corruption. The declaration also provides guidance to countries on how to adopt and/or effectively implement access to info laws.
The declaration will now be brought to the UN Human Rights Council, UNESCO and the AU for endorsement – and form the basis for formally recognising 28 September as International Right to Information Day.