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Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative - Transparency International ...

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative - Transparency International ...

ContentsLEGISLATING FOR

ContentsLEGISLATING FOR ACCESS TO INFORMATIONUseful International StandardsStandards in South AsiaDeveloping National Legislation4

Legislating forAccess to Information“[F]reedom of information should be guaranteed as a legal andenforceable right permitting every individual to obtain recordsand information held by the executive, the legislative and thejudicial arms of the state, as well as any government ownedcorporation and any other body carrying out public functions.”Commonwealth Expert Group on the Right to Know, 1999 1It is the duty of governments to promote and protect the internationallyrecognised human right to access information. This is most effectively doneby enacting specific legislation. To evolve a law that is truly in tune with thecontext and the needs of users, the process of making law in partnership withpeople is as important as what the law contains. Over the years, internationalorganisations and civil society have developed principles and guidelines thatencapsulate minimum standards to assist the development of effective laws.While many of the access laws within the Commonwealth leave much to bedesired, there are also many examples of good practice to draw on.USEFUL INTERNATIONAL STANDARDSUnited NationsThe right to access information is firmly set in the body of internationalhuman rights law. Soon after its inception, the United Nations recognisedthat people have a human right to access information from their government.They acknowledged that this right is at the core of all human rights because itenables citizens to participate in the elections and in governance processes inan informed manner, know about their entitlements, recognise when theirrights are being violated, and demand that their government fulfils its dutiesunder domestic and international law to protect and secure those rights.“Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and thetouchstone for all freedoms to which the United Nations isconsecrated”.United Nations’ General Assembly, 1946 2Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reiterates access toinformation as a basic human right. Promoting and protecting this valuableright was made obligatory on States Parties that ratified or acceded to the5

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative - Transparency International ...
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative - Transparency International ...
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