Rwanda Cabinet Considering Revised Access Legislation

25 February 2011

A revised draft Access to Information Bill is now pending before the Rwandan Cabinet, whose approval is necessary prior to Parliament’s action.

The new draft legislation recently won praise from the London-based freedom of expression group Article 19.

“The bill sets out progressive standards on access to information including a strong public interest test, short time frames for government bodies to respond to requests for information and extensive oversight powers by the Ombudsman,” according to Article 19, which urged the Cabinet to pass the bill.

The revised bill now includes stronger protection for whistleblowers and requires government bodies to respond to requests for information within 5 working days, Article 19 said.

“The bill sets a benchmark for other African nations to strive for,” said Henry Maina, Article 19 East Africa Director. “The Cabinet and Parliament should immediately approve this and put it into law,” continued Maina.

The most recent analysis of the bill by ARTICLE 19 recommended some changes to clarify its application to the private sector, a limit of 20 years for application of exemptions and a firm date for it to go into force. The bill was drafted by the Media High Council.

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