The African Freedom of Information Center (AFIC) has called on the African Commission on Human and Human Rights (ACHPR) to undertake promotional visits to countries yet to pass Access to Information Laws and encourage them to adopt ATI laws. AFIC also urged the Commission to request the Heads of State Summit of the African Union to adopt a resolution urging all members to adopt respective national access to information laws within the next one year.
Kindly read AFIC’s statement below.
Statement in Support of the Special Mandate on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa delivered by Mr Gilbert Sendugwa
Arusha October 2023
Hon Chairperson, Distinguished Hon Commissioners, State delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) and its membership of 51 civil society organisations in 27 African countries, have the pleasure to commend the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa for her leadership and excellent collaboration in the advancement of the right to information in Africa.
The right to information is guaranteed under Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights andis also recognised by the African Union in other five treaties including the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption; the African Charter on Values and Principles of Public Service and Administration; the African Union Youth Charter and the African Charter on Statistics.
We commend the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information in Africa for her leadership in advocating for the ratification, domestication and effective implementation of these important treaties that are central to Africa’s integration and development agenda.
In November 2019 the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted the revised Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa which in Principle 26 states that, “the right of access to information shall be guaranteed by law….”
Earlier on in 2015, all members of the United Nations including all states parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted by consensus, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework in which they committed under Goal 16.10 “to ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements”
Access to information is a fundamental human right, essential for the realisation of all other rights. It is also essential for the achievement of all SDGs as well as the African Union Agenda 2063. Not long ago, the world was faced with the Covid-19 pandemic where it was demonstrated that in many instances access to information can be the difference between life and death. Whether it is in facilitating prevention of the spread of the disease, effective management of patients or building support and effective reintegration of healed patients into their communities.
Access to Information is a critical for entrenching democratic governance and a vaccine to coup d’états. In Africa today we are witnessing a resurgence of military coups, many taking place after election and electoral processes characterised by lack of information, misinformation and disinformation that discredit the process,undermine public trust and legitimacy of outcomes, creating conditions for exploitation by the militaries.
Hon Chairperson, Commissioners,
It is deeply concerning that 42 years after the adoption of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 27 African countries are yet to adopt national access to information laws to give effect to Article 9 of the Charter. These include Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal and Somalia.
Chairperson, distinguished Commissioners;
Only seven years are remaining for the 2030 SDG framework to elapse. We therefore call upon the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to:
- Through urgent letters of appeal and other channels, urge the above listed countries to urgently adopt access to information laws taking guidance from the Model on Access to Information adopted by this Commission in the year 2013.
- Undertake promotional visits to these and encourage them to adopt ATI laws soonest
- Through the Commission’s next report request the Heads of State Summit of the African Union to adopt a resolution urging all members to adopt respective national access to information laws within the next one year.
Thank you for your kind attention