Uganda Marks International Day For Universal Access To Information

Ugandan journalists face police briutality

Denying media to access information is an infringement on access to information FILEPHOTOS

By Our Reporter

KAMPALA, Uganda [SHIFTMEDIA] The Chairperson Uganda Human Rights Commission Fauzat Mariam Wangadya has castigated courts who slap exorbitant costs against media houses for defamation cases describing them an infringement on rights to access to information.

Wangadya made the remarks as she gave a keynote speech during the public Dialogue to commemorate the international Day for Universal Access to information.


The event, a collaboration of Africa Freedom of Information Center (AFIC), https://Office of the United Nationa High Commissioner for Human Rights , Twaweza Uganda was held at Makerere University in Kampala on Wednesday.

“It is a great opportunity to be discussing issues related to access to information. The war on Covid-19 was significantly fought with access to information,” said Wangadya.

She noted that denying the media access to harmful information under the pretext of the secrecy oath was an infringement on their rights to information.

“To the media fraternity, I urge you to do with your work with professionalisms, ethics and integrity,” she said. She observed that the working condition, facilitation and welfare of journalists in Uganda remains wanting.

UHRC Chairperson Mariam WANGADYA
UHRC Chairperson Mariam Wangadya during the dialogue held at CEDAT Makerere University on Wednesday Sept28 2022

Robert Kotchani , Country Representative, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) hailed AFIC for organizing the event.


“I am pleased to welcome you to this Public Dialogue to commemorate the third International Day for Universal Access to Information organized by Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) in partnership with United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Uganda Country Office,  Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Uganda, Uganda Human Rights Commission, the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets ( PPDA), Ministry of Local Government, Twaweza East Africa and Makerere University Department of Journalism and Communication,” said Kotchani.

This year’s commemoration was celebrated globally under the theme: “Artificial Intelligence, e-Governance and Access to Information’’


The UN official described Information as power that can be the bridge between poverty and development and the gap between failure and success of government programmes.


“It is because of recognition of the importance of public access to information that AFIC and its partners under the Africa Platform on Access to Information in Africa (APAI) initiated and successfully led a global campaign for the United Nations to proclaim September 28th as an International Day,” he said.

Kotchan said the year 2022 edition of IDUAI is not only the third commemoration of this International Day since its proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly, but it also takes place at a time when Uganda is responding to the impact of the COVID-19, shrinking civic space and the new epidemic of Ebola.

“Timely access to information has proven to be critical in building resilience in coping with the impact of pandemics and other emergency situations. Government should work on the mechanisms of ensuring citizens get timely information that is critical in all sectors,” he said.

African states adopt


Currently, there are 26 African countries that have adopted access to information laws. There is worry that the 29 African Union Member States are yet to enact specific laws on access to information, representing a lack of commitment to the realization of SDG 16.10.2 and violating the six African Union treaties that guarantee the Right to Information.

In the study conducted by AFIC on State of Access to Information in Africa it established that many State Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights had violated Article 62 not presented respective State Reports on measures they were undertaking to promote and protect the right to information and other rights protected by the Charter.

The AFIC Executive Director Gilbert Senduga in a speech read by the AFIC Monitoring and Evaluation Manager Charity Komujurizi (below) noted that AFIC and its members are committed to collaborate with African governments, CSOs, media,

private sector, multilateral agencies and development partners to make public access to information a reality for everyone in Africa.


  1. Commitment to have the UN Special rapporteur visit Uganda, and strong commitment to work with Uganda for a transformed society where access to information is a right and not a privilege.
  2. Uganda Human Rights Commission; commitment to carry forward recommendations from the commemoration to facilitate the promotion and protection of human rights in Uganda.
  3. AFIC and its members commit to collaborate with the African Union governments, CSOs, media and private sector, multilateral agencies and development partners to make public access to information a reality.
  4. ULGA committed to continue advocating for timely access to information across the local governments, and ensure that public access to information is operationalized proactively and reactively. And strengthen the capacity of information officers.


  1. UNESCO and its partners should continue to support the AU Member States and other stakeholders to promote the realization of the SDGs on access to information.
  2. Government is called upon to protect the rights of the media by law to facilitate their fourth estate role in service delivery.
  1. A call to government to work on mechanisms and platforms of ensuring citizens and especially special interest groups’ get timely information that is critical in all sectors as and when they request for it.
  2. Government should fast track filling up of the information and communication offices across MDAs.
  1. Civil Society and other actors should continue to engage and build the capacity of the citizens on access to information, procedures for requesting information and their respective information needs.
  1. MoICT should strengthen the capacity of the information officers across MDA’s and Local Governments on their mandate and obligations in regards to right of access to information and the legal framework.
  2. Stakeholders should devise means to deliberately target special interest groups’ active engagement and participation in demanding for better services.



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