Campaigns and Advocacy - Africa8 November 2011
(MISA/IFEX) - November 3, 2011 - The 30th Anniversary of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, which was celebrated at the 50th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), saw the African Platform on Access to Information take the campaign a step further, calling upon the Commission to endorse the African Platform on Access to Information (APAI) declaration and September 28th as International Right to Know day.
Events preceding the session included the NGO forum organised by the African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights' Studies. Hundreds of civil society organisations attended the forum, where participants recommended a number of resolutions to be adopted by the commission. Amongst the resolutions, the forum called upon the Commission to recognise September 28th as International Right to Know day, as well as a call for an expansion of article IV of the Declaration of Principles of Expression in Africa to incorporate the principles of the APAI Declaration.
During the Session, which commenced on October 24th, a number of side events were organised, amongst which the APAI hosted a well attended side event which explained the practical importance of the APAI declaration, as well as how participants could further the campaign on a national level. The event was followed by a signatory event, with a number of organisations joining the hundreds of organisations from across the continent who have already pledged their support for the campaign.
The main purpose of the trip to Banjul was to place the declaration on the policy platform of the commission. On October 29th, a submission was made to the Human Rights Commission on behalf of the nine-member APAI working group. The submission reminded the commission that to date only ten countries have adopted access to information laws, despite the fact that many countries have joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the International Aid Transparency Initiative and the Open Government Partnership.
In light of this, the group called upon the ACHPR to:
"Pass a resolution authorising the ACHPR Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa to expand Part IV of the Declaration of Freedom of Expression in Africa to include principles of the APAI Declaration.
Pass a resolution requesting the AU Heads of State Summit of January 2012 to adopt September 28 as an International Right to Information day.
Urge AU member states to adopt and implement national Access to Information laws that comply with the APAI Declaration and the model law on ATI developed by the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Information in Africa.
Pass a resolution requesting the African Union Summit of January 2012 to initiate an Experts meeting to develop a continental wide instrument on the right of Access to Information."
This event is yet another important step in advancing the promotion of access to information as a human right throughout the region. The Commission will pass their final resolutions on November 7th, and it is hoped that they will pass a resolution supporting this important initiative.
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