Event Reports

“Access to Information is a human right”

On 18th-20th February 2019, the Hub for Investigative Media (HIM) and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) organized a workshop to foster the implementation of the Access to Information Act 2005 and Access to Information Regulations 2011 in Nebbi district. The HIM has been actively engaged in capacity building and advocacy campaigns and is targeting local government officials and sensitizing the public about the law. The project aims to strengthen the leaders’ knowledge and usage of the access to information tools which in turn leads to an improvement in citizen’s access to information and strengthening governance accountability. This should also realize strengthened citizens’ engagement in promoting government accountability.

In the first part of the workshop, Edward Sekyewa from the Hub of Investigative Media explained the Access to Information Act and the Access to Information Regulations to the participants, so that they can understand these acts in detail and apply it to case studies. He also explained what the current challenges are: Although the acts are implemented. 60% of the Ugandans find it difficult to access public information, but 98% of Ugandans find that information is an important aspect of good management and governance. Therefore, it is very needed to close this gap and empower the citizens to access information, not only local government leaders but also the communities. During this part, the fertile discussion about the different parts of these two acts showed how important the workshop for the participant was. Sekyewa also indicated the exemption from access to information such as people who need to be protected, cases at court or operation of public bodies, where public bodies may deny access to information.

To apply their learnings into practice, the participants filled out a request form to access information from a certain public body. Other participants responded as these public bodies to the requester and applied the act and the regulations. During the different sessions, Sekyewa gave some personal insights from his experiences about asking for access to information, which was appreciated by the participants.

The local government leaders pointed out that access to information is a human right and the knowledge about this law should therefore be strengthened. Some of the participants also indicated marginalized groups as women: “60% don’t have access to information and most people who don’t have access are women. We need to ensure that we have women advocacy”, one of the participants said. She added that she would share the information of the workshop with other people who could not be at the training. Clare, a participant with disability thanked the organizers for the invitation as it is often thought people with disabilities have no need to access things and she will give the information to other people with disabilities, as they were very interested in the workshop but didn’t have the chance to come.

The workshop was closed by remarks from Donnas Ojok from KAS, who mentioned the importance of accessing information: “It is the lifeline of our every existence as human being and in a democracy”. Access to information is essential for civic participation. Ernest, a participant, thanked the organizers: “I am really happy for this workshop. There was a knowledge gap which could be filled by the workshop.

 

written by Claudia Hell