KAMPALA – Over 90 per cent of requests for the information presented to government departments are rejected, a research done by the African Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) has revealed.
AFIC is a pan-African NGO and resource centre that promotes the right of access to information through comparative research, coordinating regional advocacy, facilitating information-sharing and capacity building.
The NGO petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, on the lack of access to information despite the passing of the Access to Information (ATI) Act in 2005.
Presenting their Report on the Status if Access to Information Act 2005 implementation in Uganda, AFIC’s Senior Programme Officer, John Asimwe, said that 92 per cent of the information requests to the selected MDAs were denied, an indication of denial of the right to information to the citizens.
“The status of access to information really shows that from the national level to the local level implementation is a big problem and the persons to implement this also do not have an idea of what the law requires them to do,” she said.
She added that often time when they ask for information from ministries, they are questioned why they need the information yet the Act allows the public to access information save for what is exempted.
Susan Juliet Agwang, the Legal and Research Officer, said that although the ATI provides that the Minister of ICT should present an annual report showing the requests for information received, the information given or denied, this has never been done.
“The ATI is everything that citizens need to hold the civil servants accountable, denying them access may continue if there are no mechanisms to enhance the understanding,” she said adding that “Parliament as the oversight body that needs to create a mechanism to ensure that information is disseminated.”
Speaker Kadaga said that as much as the Act was hard to pass, there is a need to establish the structures to have it implemented.
“After passing the law there was no serious structure established to see that the law is there. The committee on Information Communication Technology needs to look at it and see how to improve on it as it is an important function,” Kadaga said.