ARTICLE 19 welcomes a comprehensive new access to information law, which came into effect in Rwanda yesterday (11th March 2013). This is a positive step by the Rwandan Government, which must be given full effect.
This passage of this law shows that the Rwandan government is keen to entrench transparency and accountability as well as enhancing greater participation by citizens in the management of public affairs. We are enormously proud to be associated with the spirited campaign that has championed this law” said Henry Maina, Director of ARTICLE19 Eastern Africa.
ARTICLE 19 has led multi-stakeholder initiatives advocating for the enactment of this law with local groups like the Rwanda Civil Society Platform.
ARTICLE 19 finds the law exemplary in terms of its scope of application. The law applies not only to public bodies but also to some private bodies, which carry out work in the public interest. There is a strong emphasis on the importance of the public interest in the right to information and we are pleased to see that this is reflected by limited fees to pay, which will cover the cost of the reproduction of papers and for postage.
The law also has clear provisions on proactive disclosure and allows for all people to seek, receive and disseminate information, which is a progressive step as other laws on the continent only allow citizens this right.
ARTICLE 19 notes that the law has some broad exemptions, where access to information may be restricted in relation to national security and the administration of justice and trade secrets.