By Andrew Visper email@example.com
Summary: Last year, United Nations General Assembly adoption of 28th September as the International Day of Universal Access to Information, out of 55 African, only 25 countries have adopted respective national access to information laws, which civil society organisations remind African government to implement.
The recent report that Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) submitted to Parliament on the status of implementation of Uganda’s access to information Act, it found out that many ministries, department and agencies had not implemented it which they say has caused denied access to information and non compliance with their obligation to report.
The theme of the 2020 edition of the international day of universal access to information: “Access to information in times of crisis”,.
In the joint media brief, AFIC, Twaweza, Transparency International Uganda, held at Fairway Hotel on Friday 25th Sept’2020, they highlighted the need to access to information on the COVID-19 pandemic especially from World Health Organisation, Ministry of Health, among other sources. They say that there also need to disclose information on the large scale emergency procurement caused by the pandemic.
“Large scale emergency procurement caused by COVID19 need to be diaclosed. Access to information is critical to fight stigma associated with Covid-19. Citizens need to access information on the World Health Organisation and ministry of health guildines. They need to how corona is spread and how they can avoid being infected” it states.
The organisations called upon African governments to adopt and implement effectively in line with model law on access to information for African Union, members states, actively undertake awareness of citizens of their right to information and how they can exercise it under the law and adopt and effectively implement measure to promote transparency on Covid-19 procurement.
Ekadu Francis from Transparency International Uganda said that though information at national level in government departments is considered to be public, many entities have denied information with many excuses. He however applauded those that have provided information at district level which he said have started to comply gradually.
A research by Twaweza, according to Marie Nanyanzi found that anumber of citizens find it hard to access budgetary information on local government levels which she says makes it hard for citizens to influence decisions.
” When information is available, there is trust from the citizens. Our research on demand and supple sides found out 7 out of 10 Ugandan citizens find it hard to access information of local government budgets” she said
The right of access to information has been recognised by international and regional human rights instruments including Universal Declaration of human rights, International Convenant of Civil and political rights, 6 treaties of the African Union, 2039 agenda for sustainable development and etc