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On 11 March, Rwanda officially became the 11th country in Africa and the 94th country globally to adopt a comprehensive Access to Information law.

Four years after the Access to Information Bill was first introduced, FOI activists and other stakeholders welcomed the Prime Minister's decision to gazette the law, passed by Parliament in December. Alongside the ATI Act, the government also gave its assent to a new media law and the Media High Council Act. It is hoped that the three laws will together help to build a more robust access regime and a less hostile environment for journalists and human rights defenders.

Though the law itself contains a number of broad exemptions, restricts access to material "of public interest" and falls short of the standards laid down in the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights Model FOI Law, it contains clear provisions for proactive disclosure and should be seen as a signal of the government's intention to entrench transparency and enhance public participation in governance. To give life to the new law, the government must now expedite the preparation of comprehensive guidelines for implementation.

Read the ATI act here.

 
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