Image courtesy UNESCO
It’s time to reflect again on access to information as a human right, as today, 28 September 2021, marks another International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).
Here’s what you need to know about IDUAI 2021:
- The theme of this year’s IDUAI is: “The Right to Know – Building Back Better with Access to Information.”
- The theme of IDUAI 2021 “will highlight the role of access to information laws and their implementation to build back strong institutions for the public good and sustainable development, as well as to strengthen the right to information and international cooperation in the field of implementing this human right.”
- The official hashtags for IDUAI 2021 are #AccessToInfoDay and #RightToKnow.
- The main celebration events of IDUAI 2021 include seven online panel discussions on various topics related to enhancing the right of access to information.
- In her official statement for IDUAI 2021, the director-general of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay, states:
“Access to reliable information saves lives. Misinformation and rumours can cost them. This simple lesson is one we have learnt to our detriment in recent years. Whether fighting a global pandemic or supporting public debate, we need free, reliable and independent information as the foundation upon which democratic societies are built.”
Access to information in Namibia in 2021
On 17 June 2020, Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Peya Mushelenga, tabled the Access to Information (ATI) Bill in the National Assembly, where the Bill was quickly referred to the Standing Committee on Information, Communication, Technology and Innovation.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the parliamentary programme was severely disrupted and politics prevented the standing committee from being properly constituted.
This meant that the ATI Bill was never adequately addressed in parliament.
On 15 September 2021, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology again tabled the ATI Bill in the National Assembly, stating:
“The Access to Information Bill is one of the most progressive pieces of legislation in our quest to maintain Namibia’s democracy. During the development stage of this Bill, the Ministry worked closely and in full collaboration and participation of key stakeholders such as civil society organisations, academia and legislative experts to ensure that the content of the Bill allows citizens to knowledgeably engage their government in all spheres of government architecture.”
For more information:
- The text of the ATI Bill can be viewed here.
- And here are the ACTION Coalition’s key issues of concern with the ATI Bill.