Model Law for African States on Access to Information


Extract:

"2. Principles
(1) The right to information shall be guaranteed by law in accordance with the following principles –

(a) every person has the right to access information of public bodies and relevant private bodies expeditiously and inexpensively;
(b) every person has the right to access information of private bodies that may assist in the exercise or protection of any right expeditiously and inexpensively;
(c) this Act and any other law, policy or practise creating a right of access to information shall be interpreted and applied on the basis of a duty to disclose. Non disclosure shall be  permitted only in exceptionally justifiable circumstances;
(d) public bodies, relevant private bodies and private bodies shall accede to the authority of the oversight mechanism in all matters relating to access to information;
(e) any refusal to disclose information shall be subject to appeal;
(f) public bodies and relevant private bodies shall proactively publish information; and
(g) no one shall be subject to any sanction for releasing information under this Act in good faith.

3. Objectives
(1) The objects of this Act are –

(a) to give effect to the right of access to information as guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to—
(i) any information held by a public body or relevant private body; and
(ii) any information held by a private body that may assist in the exercise or protection of any right;

(b) to establish voluntary and mandatory mechanisms or procedures to give effect to the right of access to information in a manner which enables persons to obtain access to  information of public bodies, relevant private bodies and private bodies as swiftly, inexpensively and effortlessly as is reasonably possible;

(2) In keeping with the duty to promote access to information, public bodies, relevant private bodies and private bodies are obliged to keep and maintain information in a form and manner that facilitates the right of access to information.

(3) It is a further objective of this Act, generally, to promote transparency, accountability, effective governance and development by, empowering and educating everyone to understand their rights in terms of this Act.

4. Primacy of Act
(1) This Act applies to the exclusion of any provision in any other legislation or regulation that prohibits or restricts the disclosure of information of a public body, relevant private body or a private body.
(2) Nothing in this Act shall limit or otherwise restrict any other legislative requirement for a public body, relevant private body or a private body to disclose information.

5. Interpretation
When interpreting this Act due consideration must be given to its principles and objectives, the Constitution and any international instruments. In so doing, any reasonable interpretation that favours the presumption of a right to access information must be preferred to any adverse interpretation."

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