Uganda Access Regulations Problematical, WRI Says

1 July 2011

The new regulations to implement the Uganda Access to Information Act of 2005 contain “burdensome provisions that make access unnecessarily costly and difficult,” according to a new analysis.

The assessment comes from the World Resources Institute in a report entitled “Access to Information Regulations: Another Bump in the Road to Transparency,” by Gaia Larsen, Carole Excell and Peter G. Veit. The regulations were recently issued to establish procedures for using the new law. (See previous report.) They are helpful in many ways, WRI says, but “they are not in the spirit of the strong right to information provision found in Uganda’s Constitution.”

The regulations have three negative effects, according to WRI.

First, the regulations require individuals applying for information to pay a number of fees for each request.  The ATI Act specifically states that enabling regulations should cover fees equal to “the actual cost of retrieval and reproduction,” but the rules require requesters to pay a “non refundable access fee” of about $8 at the time of submission.

Secondly, the ATI regulations establish a fee for receiving government help to transcribe an oral request for information into a written application and require a deposit before the search for a record is undertaken.

Third, by failing to provide guidance to government officials about how to interpret key provisions in the act, “the new ATI Regulations leave it to individual information officers to grapple with questions of interpretation and implementation.”

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