Windhoek, Namibia, 26 September 2014: As information activists around the world celebrate the right to information on 28 September, the African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) has reiterated its call to UNESCO and the African Union (AU) to formally recognize 28 September as International Right to Information Day to promote the right.
The APAI Working Group urges the AU Commission to table a proposal at the next AU Summit asking the Heads of States and Government of the AU to adopt 28 September as African “Right to Information Day” and to initiate an Experts Group to develop further instruments to strengthen the right of access to information on the continent, as proposed in the APAI Declaration adopted in Cape Town, South Africa, on 19 September 2011.
Similarly, we urge UNESCO, through its next General Conference, to proclaim 28 September as International Right to Information Day and to recommend to the United Nations General Assembly they endorse the proclamation and set the date aside as a day to raise awareness about the importance of the right of access to information throughout the world.
UNESCO and the AU Commission have been valuable partners to the APAI Working Group in the process of developing and adopting the APAI Declaration, which seeks to promote the right of access to information and outlines principles aimed at advancing the right in Africa.
“Three years after the adoption of this critically important Declaration and Action Plan, we are convinced that the time has come to take concrete steps to ensure that the objectives of the Declaration are realized and that the right of access to information becomes real and meaningful for all African citizens”, says Edetaen Ojo, Chair of the APAI Working Group.
The Working Group notes the important steps already taken by some AU organs, particularly the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which adopted Resolution 222 on 2 May 2012, at its 50thOrdinary Session held in Banjul, The Gambia, wherein it requested the AU to consider proclaiming 28 September as International Right to Information Day in Africa, as proposed in the APAI Declaration; and the Pan African Parliament, which formally recognized the APAI Declaration in its “Midrand Declaration”, adopted on 15 May 2013.
The Working Group is gratified by the increasing number of national laws on access to information passed by African countries in the last few years and calls for greater efforts to ensure the laws are implemented effectively and realize their full potential.
We also call on other African countries lagging behind to urgently pass similar laws guaranteeing their citizens a right to information, consistent with the standards established by the Model Law on Access to Information, developed by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa and adopted by the African Commission.
About the APAI Working Group
The Working Group of the African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) is a network of civil society organisations promoting access to information in Africa. The APAI Declaration sets out the key principles that need to be satisfied to fully realise the right of access to information. The Declaration was adopted by stakeholders present at the first Pan African Conference on Access to Information (PACAI) held 17 to 19 September 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa. Members of the Working Group include:
- Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC)
- Article 19
- Federation of African Journalists (FAJ)
- Highway Africa
- Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
- Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
- Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
- Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC)
- The African Editors’ Forum (TAEF)
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