World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


World’s Press Welcomes African Declaration on Access to Information

World’s Press Welcomes African Declaration on Access to Information

2011-09-27

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), together with the World Editors Forum, have welcomed the African Platform on Access to Information Declaration, which states that access to information is a fundamental human right.

The Declaration, made in the Pan African Conference on Access to Information on 19 September in Cape Town, South Africa, sets  our key principles that are designed to promote universal accessibility to information in a new digital age.

“Access to information is the lifeblood of the newspaper industry, especially in a region such as Africa where the press plays such an important role in holding power to account,” said the WAN-IFRA CEO, Christoph Riess.

Seeking to build on the 1991 Windhoek Declaration, a statement of press freedom principles put together by African newspaper journalists, the APAI Declaration recognises the advances made and the challenges remaining to freedom of expression on the continent.

Two decades on from Windhoek, much has changed for the better in Africa, even if many negative tendencies toward the independent press persist. In many African countries, press freedom and freedom of expression are now constitutional rights – though often not respected -- and the media market is diverse, liberalised and growing. However, when it comes to access to information, most of Africa has lagged behind, including in transparency and in information and communications technology development.

Only six countries in Africa have access to information laws: South Africa, Uganda, Angola, Ethiopia, Liberia and Nigeria. Implementing these laws as well as placing more information in the public domain are two of the greatest challenges identified by the APAI Declaration.

The Declaration, made at the Pan African Conference on Access to Information in Africa, held in Cape Town on 17-19 September and organised by the Windhoek+20 Campaign on Access to Information in Africa in partnership with UNESCO and the African Union Commission, also recognised the importance of WAN-IFRA’s ongoing campaign to end criminal defamation on the continent. The Declaration of Table Mountain calls for a strong, free and independent African press to act as a watchdog over public institutions, a crucial role that it is regulalry hindered from performing, and punished for playing, by the widespread resort to 'insult laws' and criminal defamation.

To read the full text of the African Platform on Access to Information Declaration, consult
http://michellehsolomon.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/apai-declaration-english.pdf

For more information on the Declaration of Table Mountain, consult http://www.wan-ifra.org/microsites/declaration-of-table-mountain

WAN-IFRA, based in Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany, with subsidiaries in Singapore, India, Spain, France and Sweden, is the global organisation of the world's newspapers and news publishers. It represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. Its core mission is to defend and promote press freedom, quality journalism and editorial integrity and the development of prosperous businesses.

Inquiries to: Larry Kilman, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, WAN-IFRA, 96 bis, rue Beaubourg, 75003 Paris France. Tel: +33 1 47 42 85 07. Fax: +33 1 42 78 92 33. Mobile: +33 6 10 28 97 36. E-mail: larry.kilman@wan-ifra.org

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WAN-IFRA’s Declaration of Table Mountain is an earnest appeal to all Africans, particularly those in power, to recognise that political and economic progress flourishes in a climate where the press is free and independent of governmental, political or economic control. Read more ...

In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...