Introduction and Background
Every individual has the right to seek, access and receive information from public bodies or private bodies that perform a public function or utilise public funds. It is a Human Right that is guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, and article 4 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa. It is also a right that is found in many constitutions throughout the continent.
Access to Information is a fundamental part of Freedom of Expression. Where citizens are ill-informed and unable to access basic public information, it is consequently impossible for them to exercise their right to Freedom of Expression. It is also the case that it adversely affects citizens right to health, to employment, to education, to participate in public, as well as to fight corruption amongst many other rights. It disproportionally affects women, children and poor and marginalised societies, as well as negatively affecting economic growth and developments.
(The APAI Declaration; campaign for an African Platform on Access to Information)
1. Establish an understanding of the current status of Access to Information (ATI) on the continent in order to discuss the roles and responsibilities of the different stakeholders when it comes to access, availability, utilisation and affordability of ATI.
2. Identify the gaps and discuss what more needs to be done for the effective implementation of ATI frameworks.
3. Discuss the impact of the digital economy on ATI and its effects on participatory democracy.
4. Propose recommendations on how citizens can actively get involved in advocating for ATI frameworks for the advancement of participatory democracy.
1. Raise awareness on the importance of ATI for ordinary citizens.
2. Identify consequences related to not having ATI frameworks.
3. Understand how ATI can be addressed in the digital economy.
4. Encourage effective and accurate dissemination of COVID-19 related information from relevant stakeholders for participatory democracy
Identification and Expectations from Speakers
1. Namibia Media Trust: Ms. Gwen Lister, Chairperson – The role of ATI on societies
2. Centre for Law and Democracy: Toby Mendel, Executive Director – Legislative frameworks around ATI amid COVID-19 and beyond
3. Article 19 West Africa: Mrs. Fatou Jagne Senghore, Regional Director: ATI as a fundamental human right
4. Political Activist: Ms. Nanjala Nyabola, Independent consultant – ATI and the digital economy
Moderator: Patrick Sam
09h30: Logging in of Participants to Zoom Meeting
Introduction of Moderator and the Discussion Topic – Patrick Sam
10h10: Welcoming and Introductory Remarks
Mrs. Freya Gruenhagen: Country Representative – fesmedia Africa, FES
10h15: Access to Information as a fundamental Human Right
Mrs. Fatou Jagne Senghore: Regional Director – Article 19 West Africa
10h25: The Role of Access to Information in Societies
Ms. Gwen Lister: Chairperson – Namibia Media Trust (NMT)
10h35: Legislative frameworks around Access to Information amid COVID-19 and beyond
Toby Mendel: Executive Director – Centre for Law and Democracy
10h45: The Impact of the Digital Economy on Access to Information
Ms. Nanjala Nyabola: Political Activist – Independent Consultant
11h35 End of Dialogue