For immediate release
Commemoration of 28th September as International Day for Universal Access To Information .
Media Institute of Southern Africa Lesotho Chapter (MISA Lesotho) invites the people of Lesotho to commemorate the 28th September,2016 as International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) by distributing information material on media related documents in Lesotho and globally. Material for distribution includes research articles on freedom of information in Africa, State of the media in Lesotho, Report on Open and Secretive Public Institutions in Southern Africa, So This is Democracy?, African Media Barometer, A simplified translated Sesotho version of Lesotho Constitution and many more. The commemoration will also continue on Friday,30th September,2016 with the launch of a broadcasting production studio at the premises of MISA Lesotho, Happy Villa Plot 1B.
2016 is the first year of UNESCO marking 28 September as the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI). On 17 November 2015 UNESCO adopted a resolution declaring 28 September of every year as an international day. The commemoration was first proposed on the 28th September,2002 at the meeting of Freedom of Information (FOI) organizations from around the world in Bulgaria as Right to Know Day, in order to raise awareness about people’s rights to access government information while promoting FOI as essential to both democracy and good governance. In 2011, it became International Right to Information Day following the declaration on campaign for an African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) in Cape Town, Republic of South Africa. APAI contains a list of key principles essential to the full realisation of the right of access to information.
This year IDUAI is commemorated with almost half of the world’s countries – 98 at present – having enacted FOI laws that provide their citizens with a legal right to access information.
Prior to 2011, the number of countries with FOI legislation on the continent stood at five, representing just 9% of the continent; this number has increased to 13, representing 24% of all countries in Africa. Currently, South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Côte D’Ivoire, Nigeria, Niger, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tunisia, Guinea, Mozambique and Liberia have all adopted FOI laws.
A number of regional developments and successful advocacy campaigns have also encouraged the view that the tide is changing for the continent with respect to FOI. Significant developments include:
- The passing of Resolution 222 by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2012. This resolution authorised the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa to include access to information in the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression. It further recommended that the African Union officially recognise September 28 as International Right to Information Day in Africa.
- The adoption of the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa in 2013, prepared by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
- The adoption of the Midrand Declaration on Press Freedom in Africa by the Pan-African Parliament in 2013, which calls on African Union member states to adopt and review access to information laws.
In addition to these regional instruments, FOI is a human right guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 19 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Article 4 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa
On July 21 ,2011 the United Nations Human Rights Committee adopted General Comment 34 on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which detailed its interpretation of governments’ obligations to protect freedom of opinion and expression, as guaranteed by Article 19, and reaffirmed access to information as a human right.
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