Africa Rights Talk Podcast Series

In conversation with Hon Commissioner Ourveena Geereesha Topsy-Sonoo and Hlengiwe Dube

On 29 September 2023, the Centre for Human Rights Africa Rights Talk Podcast featured the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Hon Commissioner Ourveena Geereesha Topsy-Sonoo. This podcast is part of the Centre’s commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa (Model Law). In this episode, Commissioner Topsy-Sonoo delves into the significance of access to information, emphasising its role in upholding democracy and being an enabler of other  human rights. 

The Special Rapporteur outlined the African Commission’s normative standards on the right to access to information in Africa, emanating from article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which provides for the right to receive information. These are: the Guidelines on Access to information and Elections in Africa, the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa and the Model Law. On the Model Law, she discussed its adoption and implementation, highlighting notable successes and challenges. The discussion also included the contribution of digital technologies to the information ecosystem and the obstacles that vulnerable and marginalised groups encounter in navigating the digital space and using digital technologies. The podcast concludes with a call for States to create a conducive environment for the exercise of the right to access information in Africa, taking into account the digital age.  

Honourable Commissioner Ourveena Geereesha Topsy-Sonoo, was elected as a member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in October 2021. She is the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa; Vice-Chairperson of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa; Member of the Working Group on the Death Penalty, Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings and Enforced Disappearances in Africa; and member of the Resolutions Committee. She is a lawyer with great expertise in International Maritime Law. She currently works as a Parliamentary Counsel in the Attorney General’s Office in Mauritius. 

Hlengiwe Dube is the Project Manager of the Expression, Information and Digital Rights Unit of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria.

This conversation was recorded on 29 September 2023.

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