The Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, has challenged civil society organisations advocating for amendments in the Access to information Act to get down to the local person who lacks even the basic channels to be informed.
Oulanyah made the remarks while speaking at a high-level dialogue to commemorate the International Day for Universal Access to Information at the Kampala Serena Hotel.
This year’s celebrations were held under the theme: “The Right to Know: Building Back Better with Access to Information.”
The speaker explained that there is a need to get away from engagements in boardrooms to actual engagements with the citizens.
“The overall purpose of access to information is how it transforms lives of ordinary people and I challenge civil society organisations to carry out research on how the Access to Information Act has benefited rural communities, who make up the majority of the population,” Oulanyah said.
He noted that every citizen has a right to seek information from the government asking the participants to refocus the discussion on access to information to how it supports transformational programmes in communities that are less developed.
The Access to Information Act was enacted in 2005.
Robert Kotchani, country representative, office of UN Human Rights Uganda said public access to information is closely linked to freedom of expression and freedom of media.
“It empowers citizens to address issues such as corruption and inefficiency in delivery of services. Access to information is important because it plays a vital role in informing the population about public affairs and monitoring the actions of the government at all levels so they can meaningfully participate in their communities,” he said.
The executive director, Africa Freedom of Information, Gilbert Sendugwa said that women find it very difficult to get information on procurement adding that unequal access to information is undermining efforts of governments and the international community to address the widening inequality.
The Access to Information Act provides that information should be mandatorily disclosed in Public interest at no fee.