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Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama has urging the media to give meaning to Goal 16 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
In an opinion piece to mark the World Press Freedom Day, President Mahama calls on what he refers to as Freedom of Expression Alliances to “join forces under the umbrella of Goal 16”, adding: “In a world dominated by football, Goal 16 would most definitely find resonance as a rallying call.”
Target 16.10 of the Goal requires governments to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms in accordance with national legislation and international agreement”.
Last week, Kenya’s parliament passed the Access to Information Bill, which had been pending for some time. Once signed into law, it will allow members of the public access to classified information held by the government and other public authorities. The Bill now awaits presidential assent to make it law.
The Bill is in keeping with the 2002 Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which states that, “Public bodies hold information not for themselves but as custodians of the public good and everyone has a right to access this information, subject only to clearly defined rules established by law.”
In 2012, the Commission developed a Model Law on Access to Information in Africa. Since then, only a handful of countries have developed such legislation.
By Wangethi Mwangi