News Updates

Uganda: The long awaited ATI regulations was issued recently by the Government of Uganda to fully operationalise implementation of Access to Information Act in Uganda. The pleasant announcement was made by Mr. Simon Mayende, Director of Information and National Guidance on 2 May, 2011 at a public policy dialogue to mark World Press Freedom Day in Uganda. The government had acknowledged lack of compliance due to absence of regulations. With the regulations in place, procedures for obtaining information, request forms, fees structures are specified.

Nigeria: After a wait that has lasted for more than a decade, Nigeria finally got its Right to Information Bill passed. The Right to Know Initiative, Open Society Justice Initiative, Media Rights Agenda and OSIWA were at the forefront among Civil Society organisations working zealously to bring the much desired change in Nigeria. Before President Goodluck Jonathan sign the bill to give his assent, passing the law, on 28 May 2011, the bill first submitted to 4th National Assembly in 1999 had to face prolonged delays and rejection by president Olusegun Obasanjo in the past. Nigerian now has access to information from bodies that perform public functions for Nigerians or Non-Nigerians. Information must be available in whatever form the applicant requests, and any attempts by officials to doctor or otherwise alter information could lead to a prison term of up to three years. Should information not be made available to the applicant after seven days of receiving the application, the corporation may be taken to court and ordered to reveal said information.

India:The Asia Development Bank (ADB) recently released its report on Economic Development in India - India 2039: An Affluent Society in One Generation. ADB identifies the need to "implement priorities, monitor results, ensure transparency and enforce accountability" as one of the seven facets of governance which must change to transform the Indian economy and society. It makes specific acknowledgement that a "powerful instrument for improving the transparency, responsiveness and credibility of all branches of government is strong support by the top political and civil service officials for the full and genuine implementation of the Right to Information Act.

Bangladesh: The RTI Act 2009 came in to effect from 1 July. Recently, the Government of Bangladesh formed a three-member Information Commission with former secretary M Azizur Rahman as the Chief Information Commissioner. The other members include former secretary Mohammad Abu Taher and Ms. Sadeka Halim, professor in the Sociology department of Dhaka university. (08/07/09)

Tonga:The Tongan Constitutional and Electoral Commission released its first Interim Report on 5 June 2009 and has called for public submissions on the issues raised in the Report by 5 July 2009. The Report will be finalised after any submissions have been considered. The Interim Report outlines electoral and constitutional issues as determined by the Commission, and includes statements highlighting the importance of transparency and accessibility of information in Tonga. An extensive public awareness campaign is planned once the Commission's Final Report is published, with the aim of explaining and clarifying its final recommendations to everyone throughout Tonga. (05/06/09)

Click here to read the CHRI's submissions to the Tongan Constitutional and Electoral Commission.

Bangladesh: The Bangladesh government enacted the Right to Information Act on 29 March 2009. The law will not only bring positive changes in the governing system but will also reduce corruption and resist misuse of assets. The initiative for formulating the law had been taken by the immediate past caretaker government. The Act has incorporated a parliamentary body's recommendation to limit a few organisations' absolute authority to refuse to divulge information. All organisations registered under the law of the land will be bound to provide citizens with information on matters of public interests. An Information Commission will be constituted in Bangladesh within 90 days of the act's taking effect.The Right to Information Ordinance promulgated last year by the caretaker government ceased to have effect as it was not ratified within the specified timeframe. (06/04/2009)

Cook Islands: The Ombudsman's Office shall be conducting a one day workshop in the month of March 2009 on the Official Information Act (OIA) with NGO's and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister focusing specially on record keeping in the context of OIA. The workshop shall be conducted by two overseas experts, Angie Heffernan of the Pacific Centre for Public Integrity and Claire Cronin of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and shall cover a number of issues ranging from the public's right to information, government's role under the OIA, and the role of the Ombudsman and the independent consultant.(04/03/09)