Press release

Rwanda: Access to Information Law passed

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ARTICLE 19

20 Mar 2013

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ARTICLE 19 welcomes a new access to information law in Rwanda. The legislation is a positive step by the Rwandan Government, which must be given full effect. 

"The law meets standards of best practice in terms of the scope of application - it applies not only to public bodies but also to some private bodies, which carry out work in the public interest. There is a strong emphasis on the importance of public interest in the right to information and we are pleased to see that this is reflected by limited fees to pay for the reproduction of papers and postage" said Henry Maina, Director of ARTICLE19 Eastern Africa.

The new law has clear provisions on proactive disclosure and allows for all people to make applications to see information, including organisations, companies and public bodies.

ARTICLE 19 notes that the law has some broad exemptions, where access to information may be restricted in relation to national security and the administration of justice and trade secrets.

ARTICLE 19 now calls on the Minister of Information to speed up the consultation process that is currently taking place regarding the implementation guidelines. These guidelines will set clear time limits for the provision of information or explanations where access to such information has been denied.

"We are hopeful that the ministerial implementation guidelines together with oversight by the Office of the Ombudsman should ensure that this new law is properly implemented" added Maina

ARTICLE 19 recommends that all access to information applications should be addressed within 30 days.

"It is absolutely vital that the guidelines make it clear that where requests for information have not been dealt with in time or where the information requested has been denied, the person requesting that information is entitled to an appeal to the Office of Ombudsman" added Maina.

ARTICLE 19 recommends that an appeal should place within 60 days.

ARTICLE 19 has led multi-stakeholder initiatives advocating for the enactment of this law with local groups like the Rwanda Civil Society Platform.