Implementing Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation: A Guide to Accessing Information through Right to Information Laws
September 28 is celebrated globally as the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) to recognise the universal nature of the right to information (RTI) which guarantees everyone the right to seek, receive and impart information.
The right to access information is enshrined in international and regional standards and conventions, and in national constitutions and laws. Thirty-five of the 56 Commonwealth countries have enacted Right to Information legislation including Ghana and Kenya.
Anti-trafficking advocates need information on human trafficking issues in order to design, develop and implement effective and relevant programming. To understand the numbers, and prevalence. Access to information also ensures that government responses to human trafficking and civil society support are meeting the needs of both victims and survivors. This is crucial, given that human trafficking is mostly a hidden crime.
However, most anti-trafficking advocates do not use Right to Information laws to access information from government agencies that work to combat human trafficking.
About the Guide
This new compendium details the kind of information, records and data that can be obtained through Right to Information legislation, from public institutions that tackle human trafficking in Ghana and Kenya.
The objective of this guide is to provide civil society actors working on the frontlines with an additional tool that they can use to enhance their advocacy efforts and programmes to tackle human trafficking.
This guide focuses on Ghana and Kenya. Yet, a similar analysis can be applied in other Commonwealth jurisdictions.
The resource also contains recommendations which are equally of relevance to other Commonwealth countries with access to information laws.
In order to ensure effective implementation of Right to Information laws and to ultimately promote transparency and accountability in efforts to address issues related to human trafficking. CHRI makes the following recommendations.
We urge Commonwealth States to:
- Promote and protect the public’s right to access information as guaranteed under right to information legislation.
- Ensure public awareness and education on the Right to Information Act/Access to Information Act.
- Ensure that information, data and records on human trafficking are collated, consolidated and made available proactively, in a timely manner, and in accessible formats.
- Ensure comprehensive training for all public officials on the right to information/access to information and their obligations under the relevant national laws.
- Promote a culture of openness and transparency within governance.
- Organise and maintain detailed record of the institutions, departments and/or agencies that tackle human trafficking, including a description of their roles and responsibilities, and kinds of information and records that are prepared by, or are in the custody or under the control of, each of these institutions.
- Prepare detailed guidelines aimed to facilitate the exercise of the right to access to information by civil society and victims and survivors of human trafficking and their families.
- Encourage collaboration and partnership with civil society organisations to enhance the sharing of information, records and data on human trafficking.
Civil society organisations also have a key role to play, to ensure that States comply with their obligations to respect and guarantee the right to information on human trafficking issues.
Taking this into account, we urge Civil Society Organisations to:
- Work with international, regional and national civil society networks and coalitions, such as the RTI Coalition Ghana and the Commonwealth 8.7 Network, to raise awareness about the importance and value of right to information in the efforts to combat human trafficking.
- Promote a culture of knowledge sharing and learning among CSOs, especially grassroot organisations.
- Use Right to information/Access to Information legislation to address information/data gaps in the efforts to tackle human trafficking.
- Make joint submissions and applications for information requests - a collective voice is stronger.