MRA Hosts Africa Regional Conference on FOI Implementation

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) will host a two-day Africa Regional Conference on Freedom of Information Implementation on March 18 and 19, 2014 in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, to design strategies for enhancing the effectiveness of access to information laws on the continent.

The Conference will bring together over 100 Freedom of Information stakeholders, including civil society organizations, media stakeholders, public institutions and FOI oversight bodies, from across Africa for the two-day meeting. It will provide a platform where experience from different countries on the implementation of Freedom of Information laws can be shared; assess the level of implementation of existing Freedom of Information laws in the different countries that already have access to information legislation; identify and discuss the challenges of implementation in the different countries and discuss ways in which the challenges have been addressed: this will give the Nigerian participants an opportunity to learn from these experiences.

The Conference, whose theme is “Advancing Freedom of Information Implementation on the African Continent”, is expected to be declared open by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), while Major-General Chris Olukolade, Nigeria’s Director of Defence Information, will deliver the keynote address.

The Conference is supported by the Democratic Governance for Development (DGD II) Project, a joint donor-funded project managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in support of deepening democracy in Nigeria. It is funded with contributions from the European Union (EU), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and UNDP.

The broad objective of the Conference is to bring together key stakeholders from the West African sub-region and other parts of Africa to share experiences in implementing their FOI laws; collectively identify the challenges confronting the effective implementation of Freedom of Information laws in their countries and find ways of addressing or mitigating them.

Other objectives of the Conference are:

  • To bring together oversight bodies and authorities with responsibility for Freedom of Information laws and provide them with a platform for sharing experiences, building linkages for longer-term networking through which they can provide support and assistance to each other in the performance of their oversight functions;
  • To bring together representatives of public institutions covering all branches of government to share experiences of critical policy and institutional reforms that are necessary to ensure compliance by public institutions with the provisions of the FOI laws and their overall effective implementation; and
  • To bring together civil society actors, including media stakeholders, on Freedom of Information issues from across West Africa and other parts of the continent to share experiences of their challenges in the implementation of the freedom of information laws, discuss their roles in ensuring the effective implementation of the laws and discuss various strategies that can be deployed in this regard.

The Conference will end with a broad strategy document incorporating the roles and approaches of various stakeholders in the implementation of FOI Laws.

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