18 Sep 2016 17:50pm
WINDHOEK, 18 SEP (NAMPA) - Namibia has vowed to implement the Access to Information Bill before the International Day for Universal Access to Information by September next year.
The 38th General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in November 2015 declared 28 September the International Day for Universal Access to Information.
Once drafted into law, the bill will give every individual the right to seek, access and receive information from public bodies or private bodies that perform public functions.
This is according to Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and Technology Stanley Simataa who made the remarks here on Friday during a gathering of civil society organisations.
The event was initiated by a variety of civil society organisations to debate on the need, importance and significance of the Access to Informational Bill for Namibia once implemented.
Meanwhile, Simataa, who also serves as president of the 38th session of the General Conference of Unesco, said unhindered access to information is critical for development, human capacity building and democracy.
It is one of the greatest sins for a human being to deny a fellow human being information. How do we expect people in our countries to engage and debate if we continue to deny them access to information? he asked.
Simataa noted that the successful implementation of the Access to Information Bill will enhance media and information literacy and reflect good governance and transparency.
Universal access to information is essential for the well-being of every individual. It is essential for societies to function freely, and to express themselves without fear or favour. It is a human right and must never be denied, he said.
As such, he called for greater caution when dealing with sensitive information availed by Government to avoid the abuse of such rights.
Civil society organisations, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Action Access to Information Namibia, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Namibia Media Trust (NMT), and Unesco were all present at the event.
Recently, Minister of Information and Communication Technology Tjekero Tweya said he will table the much anticipated Access to Information Bill in Parliament before the end of this year.