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The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, ARTICLE 19 (Eastern and Western Africa), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe, Transparency International (Kenya), and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa cordially invite you to a webinar on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).

IDUAI was proclaimed by the 74th UN General Assembly as a recognition of the significance of access to information. This Day was initially proclaimed by the UNESCO General Conference in 2015, following the adoption of the 38 C/Resolution 57 that declared 28 September of every year as the International Day for Universal Access to Information. The webinar will focus on the role of access to information in promoting transparency and tackling corruption in Africa.

Download invitation


Webinar

Monday 28 September 2020
Webinar (Zoom)
09:00 GMT  /  10:00 WAT  /  11:00 SAST  /  12:00 EAT 

Click here to register


Theme: Accountability, transparency and access to information in Africa

Moderator: Ms Hlengiwe Dube
Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Panellists 

  • Commissioner Jamesina King
    Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information
  • Advocate Lebogang Stroom
    Information Regulator (South Africa)
  • Mr Tabani Moyo
    MISA Zimbabwe 
  • Ms Sheila Masinde
    Transparency International (Kenya)
  • Dr Shanelle van der Berg
    South Africa Human Rights Commission
  • Mr Alfred Bulakali
    Article 19 Western Africa
  • Ms Sandra Waswa
    Article 19 Eastern Africa
  • Mr William Bird
    Media Monitoring Africa

Background

Access to information is a cross-cutting and facilitative right that is also instrumental in democratic governance and promotion of transparency and accountability. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights guarantees the right of access to information under article 9 and is further elaborated in the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa (2013), the Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa (2017), and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (2019). This framework is aimed at promoting the right of access to information and guiding states in the adoption of access to information legislation. Access to information is a cross-cutting and facilitative right that is also instrumental in democratic governance and promotion of transparency and accountability. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights guarantees the right of access to information under article 9 and is further elaborated in the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa (2013), the Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa (2017), and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (2019). This framework is aimed at promoting the right of access to information and guiding states in the adoption of access to information legislation. 

Access to information in is important so as to “foster a culture of transparency and accountability in both public and private bodies, and to promote a society in which the people… have effective access to information to enable them to fully exercise and protect all their rights.”

The culture of secrecy in Africa has nurtured the now deeply-rooted scourge of corruption, which has permeated the socio-economic and political spectrum and hindered economic development. The magnitude of corruption, particularly by public officials, has been a consistent issue of concern and a source of frustration. In response to the information gaps, the media plays an important role in investigating and exposing wrongdoing especially in the public sector that is accountable to the polity. 

As such, the subject of corruption is an area of interest in the media sector. However, this has not escaped the notice of corrupt governments and the deep state who have harassed, intimidated and even arrested journalists and other critical voices who exposed or attempted to question corrupt practices. Repressive media laws have also been used to reign in the independence of the media. It is unfortunate that in the context of Africa, those who in good faith disclose information on corruption are not effectively protected by the law.

The unprecedented health crisis linked to the COVID-19 pandemic that the world has been experiencing for several months has confirmed the central role of access to information especially in the management of this crisis and strengthened its cross-cutting nature. In several countries, information is not always accessible and sometimes inadequate. This has contributed to the marginalization of some categories of persons in the responses to this health crisis in some African countries. Where information is shared and is accessible, better responses to the pandemic and its expansion have been noticed.  The COVID-19 responses raised questions of privacy, data protection, and information security issues across the continent. Some of the governments’ responses and efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic have implications on the right to privacy. In this context it is important to develop human rights-based safeguards in the collection, processing and sharing of personal health data to safeguard the right to privacy. This also requires a delicate balance between the right of access to information and the right to privacy in protecting public health. 

As part of promoting access to information, Principle 35 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa states that “no person shall be subject to civil, criminal, administrative or employment-related or other sanctions or harm, for releasing information on wrongdoing or which discloses a serious threat to health, safety or the environment, or whose disclosure is in the public interest, in the honest belief that such information is substantially true.” The Declaration also obligates states to “adopt laws to establish protected disclosure regimes and independent institutions to oversee the protected disclosure of information in the public interest.” Whistle-blower protection is an internationally recognised practice that is aimed at combating corruption and other forms of wrongdoing but in Africa, most anti-corruption frameworks do not emphasise maximum and proactive disclosure of information and protection of whistle-blowers. The situation has been left unchecked and is contributing to the entrenched culture of impunity that breeds more corruption.

Objectives of the webinar

  • To analyse the role of access to information in tackling the scourge of corruption.  
  • To share perspectives on the realisation of the right of access to information on the continent particularly with regards to transparency and accountability in governance.
  • To analyse the role of elaborate whistle-blower protection frameworks in enhancing transparency and accountability in governments.
  • To draw the attention of stakeholders to the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa, and the Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa.
  • To encourage civil society organisations to continue to advocate for the adoption of access to information laws in countries that do not have one and for effective implementation in countries that already have.To assess the balance between the right to privacy and access to information.

Agenda

  • Introductory remarks by the Centre for Human Rights. 
  • Keynote address by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information: Overview of the African Commission’s initiatives on Access to Information and it's impact at state level.
  • Protection of whistle-blowers in Africa: a case of Zimbabwe (MISA Zimbabwe).
  • The balance between the right of access to information and the right to privacy in the management of COVID-19 (South Africa Information Regulator).
  • The need for proactive disclosure in times of Covid-19, South Africa Human Rights Commission.
  • The role of access to information in tackling corruption in Africa (Transparency International).
  • Access to information, privacy and national security: Striking the balance to enhance transparency (Article 19 Eastern Africa).
  • Strategies to improve access to information regimes in Africa (Article 19 Western Africa).
  • Reform of Access to Information Legislation in South Africa.
  • Discussion. 
  • Concluding remarks.

Click here to register


For more information, please contact:

Hlengiwe Dube
Manager:
Expression, Information and Digital Rights Unit

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 4199
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743
hlengiwe.dube@up.ac.za

Marystella Auma Simiyu
Tutor: HRDA
Project Officer: Expression, Information and Digital Rights Unit

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 3810
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743
marystella.simiyu@up.ac.za

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The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, ARTICLE 19 (Eastern and Western Africa), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe, Transparency International (Kenya), and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa cordially invite you to a webinar on the occasion of the commemoration of the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).

IDUAI was proclaimed by the 74th UN General Assembly as a recognition of the significance of access to information. This Day was initially proclaimed by the UNESCO General Conference in 2015, following the adoption of the 38 C/Resolution 57 that declared 28 September of every year as the International Day for Universal Access to Information. The webinar will focus on the role of access to information in promoting transparency and tackling corruption in Africa.

Download invitation


Webinar

Monday 28 September 2020
Webinar (Zoom)
09:00 GMT  /  10:00 WAT  /  11:00 SAST  /  12:00 EAT 

Click here to register


Theme: Accountability, transparency and access to information in Africa

Moderator: Ms Hlengiwe Dube
Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Panellists 

  • Commissioner Jamesina King
    Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information
  • Advocate Lebogang Stroom
    Information Regulator (South Africa)
  • Mr Tabani Moyo
    MISA Zimbabwe 
  • Ms Sheila Masinde
    Transparency International (Kenya)
  • Dr Shanelle van der Berg
    South Africa Human Rights Commission
  • Mr Alfred Bulakali
    Article 19 Western Africa
  • Ms Sandra Waswa
    Article 19 Eastern Africa
  • Mr William Bird
    Media Monitoring Africa

Background

Access to information is a cross-cutting and facilitative right that is also instrumental in democratic governance and promotion of transparency and accountability. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights guarantees the right of access to information under article 9 and is further elaborated in the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa (2013), the Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa (2017), and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (2019). This framework is aimed at promoting the right of access to information and guiding states in the adoption of access to information legislation. Access to information is a cross-cutting and facilitative right that is also instrumental in democratic governance and promotion of transparency and accountability. The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights guarantees the right of access to information under article 9 and is further elaborated in the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa (2013), the Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa (2017), and the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (2019). This framework is aimed at promoting the right of access to information and guiding states in the adoption of access to information legislation. 

Access to information in is important so as to “foster a culture of transparency and accountability in both public and private bodies, and to promote a society in which the people… have effective access to information to enable them to fully exercise and protect all their rights.”

The culture of secrecy in Africa has nurtured the now deeply-rooted scourge of corruption, which has permeated the socio-economic and political spectrum and hindered economic development. The magnitude of corruption, particularly by public officials, has been a consistent issue of concern and a source of frustration. In response to the information gaps, the media plays an important role in investigating and exposing wrongdoing especially in the public sector that is accountable to the polity. 

As such, the subject of corruption is an area of interest in the media sector. However, this has not escaped the notice of corrupt governments and the deep state who have harassed, intimidated and even arrested journalists and other critical voices who exposed or attempted to question corrupt practices. Repressive media laws have also been used to reign in the independence of the media. It is unfortunate that in the context of Africa, those who in good faith disclose information on corruption are not effectively protected by the law.

The unprecedented health crisis linked to the COVID-19 pandemic that the world has been experiencing for several months has confirmed the central role of access to information especially in the management of this crisis and strengthened its cross-cutting nature. In several countries, information is not always accessible and sometimes inadequate. This has contributed to the marginalization of some categories of persons in the responses to this health crisis in some African countries. Where information is shared and is accessible, better responses to the pandemic and its expansion have been noticed.  The COVID-19 responses raised questions of privacy, data protection, and information security issues across the continent. Some of the governments’ responses and efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic have implications on the right to privacy. In this context it is important to develop human rights-based safeguards in the collection, processing and sharing of personal health data to safeguard the right to privacy. This also requires a delicate balance between the right of access to information and the right to privacy in protecting public health. 

As part of promoting access to information, Principle 35 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa states that “no person shall be subject to civil, criminal, administrative or employment-related or other sanctions or harm, for releasing information on wrongdoing or which discloses a serious threat to health, safety or the environment, or whose disclosure is in the public interest, in the honest belief that such information is substantially true.” The Declaration also obligates states to “adopt laws to establish protected disclosure regimes and independent institutions to oversee the protected disclosure of information in the public interest.” Whistle-blower protection is an internationally recognised practice that is aimed at combating corruption and other forms of wrongdoing but in Africa, most anti-corruption frameworks do not emphasise maximum and proactive disclosure of information and protection of whistle-blowers. The situation has been left unchecked and is contributing to the entrenched culture of impunity that breeds more corruption.

Objectives of the webinar

  • To analyse the role of access to information in tackling the scourge of corruption.  
  • To share perspectives on the realisation of the right of access to information on the continent particularly with regards to transparency and accountability in governance.
  • To analyse the role of elaborate whistle-blower protection frameworks in enhancing transparency and accountability in governments.
  • To draw the attention of stakeholders to the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa, and the Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa.
  • To encourage civil society organisations to continue to advocate for the adoption of access to information laws in countries that do not have one and for effective implementation in countries that already have.To assess the balance between the right to privacy and access to information.

Agenda

  • Introductory remarks by the Centre for Human Rights. 
  • Keynote address by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information: Overview of the African Commission’s initiatives on Access to Information and it's impact at state level.
  • Protection of whistle-blowers in Africa: a case of Zimbabwe (MISA Zimbabwe).
  • The balance between the right of access to information and the right to privacy in the management of COVID-19 (South Africa Information Regulator).
  • The need for proactive disclosure in times of Covid-19, South Africa Human Rights Commission.
  • The role of access to information in tackling corruption in Africa (Transparency International).
  • Access to information, privacy and national security: Striking the balance to enhance transparency (Article 19 Eastern Africa).
  • Strategies to improve access to information regimes in Africa (Article 19 Western Africa).
  • Reform of Access to Information Legislation in South Africa.
  • Discussion. 
  • Concluding remarks.

Click here to register


For more information, please contact:

Hlengiwe Dube
Manager:
Expression, Information and Digital Rights Unit

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 4199
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743
hlengiwe.dube@up.ac.za

Marystella Auma Simiyu
Tutor: HRDA
Project Officer: Expression, Information and Digital Rights Unit

Tel: +27 (0) 12 420 3810
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743
marystella.simiyu@up.ac.za