Rwanda Cabinet Okays Access to Information Bill

13 June 2011

The Rwandan Cabinet June 1 approved an Access to Information bill and supporters are hoping for it to be signed into law in late September.

ARTICLE 19 urged the Rwandan Parliament to pass the bill. “The Rwandan Government’s adoption of the Access to Information Bill is a clear acknowledgement of the key role free flow of information can play in good governance and transparency and in the sustainable development of the country. The Rwandan Parliament must now expedite the enactment process so that the people of Rwanda can start enjoying the benefits of this law,” said Henry Maina, Director, ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa. Article 19 had prepared a February 2001 note on the draft bill reviews of a draft law, and also commented in October 209 made a comment

Maina told that the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate are expectd to debate the Access to Information bill soon and enact it within about 90 days. This would make a presidential signature on the bill possible by the end of September.

Possibly influencing the action was the review of Rwanda’s human rights record under the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process which involves a review of the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States once every four years. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.

The Human Rights Council adopted the report on Rwanda June 7.

Passage of the ATI bill came in conjunction with approval of a media self-regulation measure, according to a report in The East African and another in The New Times.

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