Burkina Faso Passes FOI Bill; Draft Considered Good

10 September 2015

Burkina Faso’s parliament has adopted a freedom of information bill, according to sources and media reports.

See text of the legislation (in French).

Little detail was available about the legislation immediately after passage, but drafts were praised by FOI experts.

The National Transitional Council passed the FOI bill Aug. 30, along with several bills regulating the media that will be signed and published soon, according to a spokesman at the Burkina Faso embassy in Washington.

Several FOIA experts in Africa said they were awaiting a look at the final bill. One described the draft bill (in French) as good. See comments made (in French) by the African Freedom of Information Centre which called the bill “impressive” and made a variety of suggestions for improvements.

Some information is contained in an article about the bill posted on the website of Collectif24, a group on the Democratic Republic of the Congo that held a national symposium on the right to information Sept. 10-12. The article indicates that the Burkina Faso bill will establish a independent National Access to Public Information Authority ( ANAIP). The Authority will consist of two members appointed by the president of Burkina Faso, one member appointed by the President of the National Assembly, a member of the medical profession, a magistrate, a member appointed by the organizations defending human rights, a member appointed by the Association of Archives and Documentation, a member appointed by the Commission for Computing and Liberties, a member of the media designated by the associations of media professionals.

One member of parliament supporting the bill, Dramane Konate, was quoted as saying “la dépossession de l’information est un crime, la rétention de l’information est un délitm” rendered by Google translate as: “the dispossession of information is a crime, retention of information is a crime.”

The Media Foundation of West Africa issued a statement lauding the development and urging other counties to follow suit. It noted that Burkina Faso would be the seventh country within the West Africa region and the 17th across Africa to have a FOI law.

The MFWA also stated:

While we congratulate the transitional leadership in Burkina Faso on taking such a bold decision to foster transparent, accountable and responsive governance, we urge the government and Parliament of Ghana to speed up the process of passing Ghana’s RTI law.

The right to access information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by regional and international instruments to which Ghana is a signatory.

The MFWA also calls on other countries in the West Africa region that have no RTI laws to adopt such laws to promote transparency and accountability in governance. We also urge the ECOWAS [the Economic Community of West African States] to adopt a regional framework on access to information in line with the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.

Media coverage, such as a news report by the ECOFIN Service (in French), focuses on the controversial media portions of the legislation.

Media groups on Sept. 8 united to protest changes in media law according to a Le Pays article (in French). The groups expressed their dissatisfaction with high fines imposed in exchange for the decriminalization of press offenses.

 

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