Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) welcomes the joint decision of the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) to deepen and broaden support for the advancement the right of freedom of expression and access to information in Africa and Europe. This decision was reached during the eleventh Human Rights Dialogue held at Kigali, Rwanda on November 24, 2015. Follow this link for details.
The situation of freedom of expression and access to information in Africa is challenged by hostile legal environments, lack of implementation and enforcement of existing progressive international and continental standards as well as citizens’ lack of demand for reforms. This is further complicated by an increasingly shrinking civic space in many countries which characterized by laws that criminalise speech, arrest, intimidation and killing of human rights defenders, threats to de-register NGO and other forms of threats, among others.
The AU and EU concurred with recommendations of the AU-EU civil society human rights seminar which took place from November 20-21, 2015 in Kigali, Rwanda. The two institutions agreed to jointly support the holding of a continental conference on freedom of expression in 2016, conducting a seminar on freedom of association, development of national action plans on safety and security of journalists and freedom of expression advocates in conflict zones in Africa as well as support to the production of status report on implementation of access to information in line with the African Model Law on Access to Information adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
“Democracy and human rights cannot thrive in the absence of civil society. The decision by the two institutions to promote the right to information and address contracting civic space in Africa is commendable” observes Gilbert Sendugwa, Executive Director, AFIC
This step by both institutions will contribute to creating citizen centred partnership and a step to the realization of the Africa-Europe Roadmap.