Updated Bill for Freedom of Information

Updated Bill for Freedom of Information

The United Group was always keen to advocate for the right to access to information. It performed lot of activities in this regard. In 2008, it formulated a committee of experts to draft a bill for the freedom of circulation of information. The draft was discussed in a conference and published in a book.

In 2011 the United Group cooperated with the Center for International Private Enterprise to add to enhance this bill and come up with a constitutional text for the freedom of circulation of information.

They organized a workshop at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science on April 20, 2011, which came up with 8 possible constitutional texts from which the United Group picked one. Furthermore, they organized an extended conference at Marriot Hotel on June 01, 2011; it was attended by over 300 participants. The aim of this conference was to combine the bill drafted by the United Group in 2008 with the Draft African Model Law on Information, as well s adding the chosen constitutional text.

The proposed bill on freedom of information expands on the right to access information and sets up mechanisms that enable and ensure that citizens are able to practice their right. The bill makes freedom of information the rule, and withholding it the exception. It specifies the limited cases in which information may be withheld. In all cases, it allows withholding information for a specific period only.

The proposed bill provides for the creation of a high commission that facilitates the access of citizens to information, and promotes awareness of such rights. It set up an appeals committee and appeals process that looks into cases of undue withholding or delay in releasing of information. It protects whistleblowers who reveal abuse, and penalizes those who contravene the provisions of this law.

Furthermore, it provides for the release of any information if the purpose of such release is to reveal material violations of the constitution, financial corruption, or human rights violations.

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