19 September 2011

New declaration on Access to Information signed in Cape Town

On 19 September participants at the Pan African Conference on Access to Information signed the African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) Declaration.

The declaration establishes fourteen principles designed to guide the right to information on the continent. The declaration also includes a call to action, challenging international and Pan African bodies as well as national governments to take action to implement the principles. It also calls on civil society to:
• engage with governments in developing, enhancing and implementing access to information laws;
• monitor progress on the implementation of access to information laws;
• create awareness on access to information and provide assistance to facilitate public access to information;
• ensure transparency in their own activities; and
• promote international right to know day, 28 September.

SAHA currently undertakes work in all of these key spheres through its Freedom of Information Programme (FOIP). For example, this year FOIP is undertaken training in access to information with the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex sector as well as the Diepsloot community. Through its work with the PAIA Civil Society Network, FOIP also monitors the implementation of access to information in South Africa. The Network has recently released a report on the implementation challenges experienced by its members over the last 12 months. Furthermore, FOIP is invovled in promoting the right to informaton on the African continent through its work in drafting a model access to information law for Africa on behalf of the African Commission Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and Access to Information. 

The declaration was signed by the African Commission Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and Access to Information and it is hoped that it will be used by the African Commission on Human and People's Rights to expand the current principles on access to information in the ‘Declaration on Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa'.

A copy of the declaration can be accessed here.

For assistance with requesting information under the South African Promotion of Access to Information Act contact FOIP.