Lawyers briefed on Access to Information Law

Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) and the Office of the Ombudsman, in collaboration with the Rwanda Bar Association, yesterday held a workshop on Access to Information Law.

Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) and the Office of the Ombudsman, in collaboration with the Rwanda Bar Association, yesterday held a workshop on Access to Information Law.

Over 20 lawyers discussed the importance of getting timely information to good governance and accountability.

Gerald Mbanda, head of media and communication at RGB, provided the lawyers with the overview and progress of media sector reforms and the role of media in development.

“Lawyers need to be informed about the Access to information Law as well as understand how the law will affect their work and the challenges and opportunities it might present,” Mbanda said.

In 2013, Rwanda became the ninth country in Africa to enact the Access to Information Law. The law recognises the right to access to information, the procedures for accessing information, and compliance related issues.

Mariam Murindabigwi, a private lawyer in Kigali, said the workshop was timely given that access to information helps when she is following up on a case.

“Information is important, especially if we are to use it to fight or deal with injustices. My wish is for all Rwandans, especially journalists, to be conversant with the law,” Murindabigwi said.

 Jean Aimé Kajangana, director of leadership code of conduct unit at the Office of the Ombudsman, who is also in charge of monitoring the implementation of the Access to Information Law, said they have received 17 complaints since the law was enacted two years ago. 

“Fifteen of the cases are complaints from journalists, the others are from lawyers who were denied information about a client they were representing. We have not received any case from the public and we think this could be because they are not informed about the law,” Kajangana said. 

He added that the Ombudsman informed all government institutions to provide them with contacts of persons in charge of providing information.

“We publish contacts of these people on our web site so that the public can know the right person to ask for information in a particular institution. This also helps us in holding those in charge accountable,” said Kajangana.

A similar workshop for prosecutors is scheduled for today and that of judges on Thursday.

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