The Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) has called on Heads of State and Government of La Francophonie to consider adoption frameworks that promote citizens’ right to information during their summit in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo from 12-14 October 2012.
The call is contained in the Kinshasa Declaration adopted at the end of a Forum for civil society organizations in Francophone Africa that took place in Kinshasa for the 8-12 October 2012. The Forum was organized to precede La Francophonie Summit to draw the leaders’ attention to the multiple governance challenges facing French-speaking countries in Africa in particular and to formulate recommendations for improvement.
AFIC is urging La Francophonie member-states to adopt a declaration on access to information, member states to adopt and effectively implement comprehensive national freedom of information legislations and also recognize September 28 as International Right to Information Day in line with the African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) Declaration.
This call comes against a background of concerns that La Francophonie countries on the continent are lagging behind their Anglophone counterparts in the promotion of the right to information. Only three out of the ten ATI laws in Africa have been adopted by Francophone countries (Guinea, Niger and Tunisia). Implementation of these laws is yet to begin.
Policy-makers in these countries have opposed adoption of ATI legislations on grounds that laws on press freedom fully address the right to information. An argument that is highly debatable.
The civil society forum brought together 850 participants from DR Congo, Congo- Brazzaville, Gabon, Cameroon, Uganda, South Africa and Canada. Discussions at the forum were organized around seven panels. AFIC organized the first panel on rule of law, governance and access to information.
The Forum was presided over by the representative of the Commissioner General of La Francophonie; he described the recommendations contained the Kinshasa Declaration as valid and committed to bring them to the attention of La Francophonie leaders.
The International Organisation of La Francophonie is an organization of countries that share the French language. It was created in 1970 to embody the active solidarity between its 75 member states and governments (56 members and 19 observers), which together represent over one-third of the United Nations’ member states and account for a population of over 890 million people, including 220 million French speakers.