28 September 2012

International Right to Know Day celebrated throughout Africa and around the world

28 September 2012 marked the tenth anniversary of International Right to Know day. Civil society groups across South Africa and around the world spent the day campaigning for government transparency, effective legislation, and public awareness about the right to know.

SAHA's Freedom of Information Programme celebrated the occasion with a week of events: facilitating workshops about the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), launching a new website, and hosting a cross-sector dialogue forum about the effectiveness of South Africa's freedom of information legislation. SAHA also received the award for ‘best promoter' of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) from the South African Human Rights Commission at the Golden Key Awards.

South Africa
South Africa's Right2Know campaign organised marches in Pretoria, Durban, and Cape Town. In Pretoria, marchers presented their demands to the Office of the Presidency and were told that the President would respond to them.

West Africa
In west Africa, the Réseau des Journalistes Economiques de Guinée (REJEG) and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) hosted a conference for activists, politicians, academics, journalists, NGOs, and civil society groups from Niger, Benin, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Guinea. They developed strategies and suggestions to improve the adoption and implementation of freedom of information laws throughout francophone west Africa.

Nigeria's Right to Know coalition expressed concern that in the 18 months since Nigeria's Freedom of Information Act was enacted, there is no official gazette copy of the law, government compliance is poor, and most freedom of information requests end up in court.

The Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC), the Government of Uganda and the Civil Society Coalition on Freedom of Information (COFI) hosted a public dialogue on the right to information. Discussion items were: the African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) Declaration, the Open Government Partnership, the right to information and the implementation of Uganda's Access to Information Act.

The Government of Liberia, the Liberian Freedom of Information Coalition and the Carter Center coordinated radio call-in shows, a parade, and a session for government and civil society partners to discuss progress and challenges in the implementation of Liberia's freedom of information law.

Transparency Maroc and the Moroccan network for Access to Information (REMDI) organised a conference about the involvement of civil society in shaping Morocco's access to information law. They also coordinated musical and theatrical exhibitions to celebrate and raise awareness about International Right to Know Day.

TOUENSA hosted a round table discussion on the importance of effective access to information legislation in Tunisia and its role in developing democratic, transparent government.

The Amman Center for Human Right Studies (ACHRS) organised seminars about the implementation of Jordan's access to information laws and how they could be amended to conform to international standards.
The St Helena Freedom of Information Campaign called on government to adopt a Freedom of Information Ordinance to ensure a general right to information balanced against the legitimate protection of confidential information.
The Center for Promotion of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information ("Acces-info") organised a debate on the right to information that was broadcast live online. The Centre also held its annual conference on the topic of access to information and transparency in political decision-making.
The Centre for Law and Democracy hosted a debate over social media about the right to information, transparency, and fostering accountability.
The Lebanese Transparency Association's activities included an access to information awareness survey, training for journalists, new website development, and a conference.ATI awareness survey, ATI training for journalists, new website development, and a conference held in the Lebanese Parliament.
The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) held a conference called "Politics of Right to Information Legislation." Speakers asserted that government should be legally obligated to proactively disclose information about issues of public importance and to provide this information when it is demanded by citizens.