On 19 May 2020, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa in partnership with the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria and ARTICLE 19 (Eastern Africa and Western Africa) convened a webinar to introduce the revised Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa.
Theme: Freedom of expression and access to information in Africa
MODERATOR: Prof Frans Viljoen
Director, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Lawrence Mute outlines the background and rationale behind the revision of the Declaration and the drafting process. He reinforces that the revised Declaration is reflective of the changes in the human rights landscape in the context of freedom of expression and access to information on the continent offline and online. Commissioner Mute also summaries the general principles of the revised Declaration and reiterates the commitment of the African Commission and Peoples’ Rights in the protection and promotion of human rights on the continent.
Fatou Jagne (ARTICLE 19 Western Africa), Mugambi Kiai (ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa) and Maxwell Kadiri (Open Society Justice Initiative) summarise the principles contained in the Declaration. Fatou focuses part 2 of the Declaration which is on the principles on freedom of expression (principles 10-25). Mugambi Kiai, presents the third part of the Declaration on the right of access to information (principles 26-36). Maxwell Kadiri summaries about freedom of expression and access to Information on the Internet (principles 37-42), which is contained under part four of the Declaration.
Hlengiwe Dube (Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria) discusses the utility of the revised declaration in enhancing the rights of freedom of expression and access to information offline and online. She outlines the significance of the Declaration in the state reporting obligation under article 62 of the African Charter and in the development of article 9 related national legislation such as access to information laws. She also gives emphasis to the importance of disseminating and effectively implementing the Declaration. On the COVID-19 context, she underscores the need promote the right of access to information and emphasises the essential role of the media in disseminating COVID-19 related information.
The revised Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, which replaced the 2002 Declaration, was adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights during the 65th Ordinary Session, which was held from 21 October to 10 November 2019 in Banjul, The Gambia. The revision of the Declaration, under the stewardship of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, was undertaken pursuant to Article 45(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Herein, the African Commission promotes human and peoples’ rights, among others, by formulating and laying down principles and rules to solve legal problems relating to human and peoples’ rights and fundamental freedoms upon which African States may base their legislation. It revised Declaration establishes the principles that embody the rights to freedom of expression and access to information in conformity with Article 9 of the African Charter, which guarantees individuals the right to receive information, as well as the right to express and disseminate information. This webinar is part of the Centre for Human Rights’ support to the mandate of the Special Rapporteur in the protection and promotion of freedom of expression and access to information in Africa.
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