access to information

Tshwane Principles launched after global consultations

ACHPR adopts model law as Rwanda passes law

ATI conference increases pressure on government to act

OSISA awarded a grant to the Media Institute for Southern Africa - Swaziland to mount a successful campaign for the passing of access to information legislation which would lead to transparency and accountability in public institutions, enhanced media freedom, and increased citizen participation in governance issues.

As the rights revolution unfolded in Africa over the past two decades, one area in particular lagged behind: the right to information. Just five years ago, only four African countries - South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe and Uganda - had freedom of information laws. The idea that citizens with access to information could play a significant role in promoting open and equitable governance was not, it seems, enthusiastically embraced by those in power.

Accessible information is vital for citizens to make informed decisions and participate meaningfully in all matters of national interest.

The right for citizens to access public information exists in the Malawian Constitution; Malawi is also a signatory to various United Nations’ charters regarding the access to information as a primary right. Malawi’s media environment should thus be conducive to accessing information.

Jamila Abass knew that better market information could help to transform the lives of many rural Kenyans, who rely on agriculture for much of their income. In particular, the poorest people – often small-scale farmers and farm labourers – lack access to critical information. This results in exploitation by the middlemen, who take advantage of the lack of transparency in the market.

OSISA supported Radio Voice of the People (VOP), a formerly ‘exiled’ radio station, is now operating through innovative means from inside Zimbabwe to promote independent and professional journalism through the provision of credible news and debates that enhance democracy, good governance, transparency and accountability. Radio VOP has been a grantee of both the Program on Independent Journalism (PIJ) and OSISA since 2000.

Cabinet adopts policy on access to information

There has been an explosion in access to information legislation since the turn of the millennium with an unprecedented number of right to information laws being adopted. Worldwide there were just 12 laws in place at the beginning of 2000 but by the end of the decade there were over eighty, although only five were in Africa - Angola, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe. And the pace has only quickened since then. Now there are 94 laws in place around the world - and 11 in Africa.

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