Ahead of preparations for the International Day of Universal Access to Information, Africa Freedom of Information Centre met the Uganda Minister of ICT &National Guidance, Hon. Judith Nabakooba and the Permanent Secretary.

We discussed findings and recommendations of the Shadow Report to Parliament and explore avenues for partnership with the ministry as we plan to commemorate the IDUAI 2020.

Recognizing the significance of access to information, the 74th UN General Assembly proclaimed 28 September as the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) at the UN level in October 2019. The day had been proclaimed by the UNESCO General Conference in 2015, following the adoption of the 38 C/Resolution 57 declaring 28 September of every year as International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).

IDUAI 2020 will be a focus on the right to information in times of crisis and on the advantages of having constitutional, statutory, and/or policy guarantees for public access to information to save lives, build trust and help the formulation of sustainable policies through and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

During the IDUAI 2020, participants will advocate for sound constitutional, statutory, and policy guarantees for access to information and their implementation in times of crisis. The endorsement of principles related to the right to information in crisis management will be complemented by discussions on the role of various stakeholders in that regard.

The celebrations will also showcase the impact of proactive disclosure of information on health, education, and inclusive and gender-sensitive initiatives. When authorities fail to proactively share health-related information and data or block access to such information, populations are susceptible to adverse impacts and cannot fully enjoy their right to health. Informing citizens in times of crisis should be an integral component of any campaign aimed to address health emergencies.

Changing a culture of secrecy to one of openness is a difficult task that can take generations. Developing access to information culture can be divided into three phases: the passage of the law, its implementation, and its enforcement. It is critical to work with both government and civil society. There is co-responsibility in the development of vibrant access to information regime. Governments must pass a good law and implement the necessary procedures and processes, while civil society has the responsibility of using the law and monitoring the government’s efforts.

The meeting with the Information and National Guidance Directorate will conclude with us the planned activities for IDUAI.

 

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