Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) welcomes United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR) draft recommendations No. 134. (40, 47, 56, 64 and 126) on the urgent need for the Government of Angola to amend and strengthen the country’s freedom of information law as well as promote citizens right to information through various actions.
Despite the importance of the right to information in advancing good governance, democracy and accountability and glaring deficits of the same in Angola, the previous UPR did not address itself to the situation of citizens’ right of access to information in Angola. It should be noted that despite the country’s enormous natural resources and the country’s leaders and people close to power are rated among the richest in the world , 2 in every 3 people live in absolute poverty.
In addition, inspite of having adopted a freedom of information law in 2002, the secretive character of government business has not changed. Many citizens are not aware about their right to information and how this could be exercised through the law. During, the last national election, thousands of eligible voters did not have basic information about the exercise, hence inability to participate effectively in choosing the country’s leaders.
In 2012, AFIC analysed Angola’s Freedom of Information Act on the basis of regional and international standards and established that some of the problems affecting implementation of the law arise from the law itself. The main areas of concern include limited scope (excludes private bodies), wide exemptions, ambiguity, lack of specific obligations on establishing, keeping and disseminating records, language and accessibility.
AFIC is also concerned that despite being among the first countries to adopt the law, Angola has not implemented it. The Monitoring Commission to oversee implementation has not been established, training of officials and creating awareness of the population among other key aspects are lacking.
During the Pre-session of the Universal Periodic Review on Angola held at the beginning of October 2014, AFIC addressed diplomats in Geneva on the above and called upon them to consider recommendations on the above. The Government of Angola acknowledged the above problems.
AFIC welcomes the recommendations and calls upon the Government of Angola to expedite amendments to the Freedom of Information Act in close consultation with civil society. We remain committed to support the country in realizing this recommendation.
For more information please contact:
Coordinator/Head of Secretariat
Africa Freedom of Information Centre