Issues we address
It is your fundamental human right to ask for, and receive, information held by public organisations and bodies. It is critically important to make sure information held by public, and in some cases private, institutions is available and accessible to citizens.
The right to seek, access and receive information is guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 4 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa. It is also recognised in many of the Constitutions of southern African countries.
MISA Lesotho has for the past ten years advocated for the passage of the Receipt and Access of Information Bill 2000. However, experience indicates that there is lack of political will on the side of the government of Lesotho that has ratified both ICCPR and the ACHPR. In the project, MISA Lesotho intensified its lobby and advocacy campaign through improved strategy. Whereas in the past lobby meetings with parliamentarians and political party leaders in parliament, government strategic ministries including Human Rights Unit in the Ministry of Justice, parliamentary and Constitutional Affairs were key, in this project MISA Lesotho embarks into a massive multi-media campaign. The campaign includes radio programmes, newspaper advertorials, Information Education Communication (IEC) material, seminar and signature collection campaign to put pressure on the government of Lesotho to pass the Bill. MISA Lesotho is building a stronger collaboration with other civil society organizations to strengthen advocacy campaign. One of the lessons in the past years of our campaign for the passage of this Bill was that MISA Lesotho looked at access to information as the media issue.
However, we have learned that access to information is a rights’ issue. Therefore, another advocacy approach which enable varies actors to take part in the campaign. MISA Lesotho believes that access to information is an important and strong mechanism for realization of greater development that will bring about poverty alleviation, eradication of diseases and economic development for Lesotho. Therefore, this campaign deserves the support needed for pressuring the government to pass the Receipt and Access of Information Bill of 2000. The passing of the Bill will not only go a long way in boosting the development of Lesotho but even that of the African continent in that the Bill has the spirit of the African Union Model law on Access to Information and that of the ICCPR and ACHPR instruments that Lesotho has rectified.
Right to Information Day
MISA and the African Platform on Access to Information working group are calling on the United Nations to endorse 28 September as International Right to Information Day, giving an official stamp to the occasion already marked by many national governments and civil society organisations around the world for more than a decade.
Right to Information Day will be a date to raise awareness about the importance of the right of access to information throughout the world.