KIGALI - The Director of Article 19 Regional office, Henry O. Maina, has commended the country’s efforts to enact the Access to Information law.
The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the draft bill which was forwarded to Parliament to be enacted into law.
Maina made the remarks yesterday during a forum that brought together senior government officials, media owners, editors and civil society representatives to discuss challenges of implementing the proposed law.
“The recent approval of the bill by the Cabinet is a great positive step and the challenge now is to see Parliament taking that immediate zeal and interest into enacting it into law,” he said.
Maina added that the implementing the law will benefit both the government and the citizens.
“The law helps citizens to hold the government accountable and enhances transparency in the use of public resources,” he noted.
“It’s a good thing Rwanda becomes one of the first countries in Africa to show its willingness to be held accountable and transparent by passing the law”.
If passed, Rwanda will become the second country in East Africa to enact the law, after Uganda.
“It’s a big challenge to Kenya, Burundi and Tanzania that, Rwanda having gone through the worst experience of the 1994 Genocide, has managed to pick itself up and set certain processes going,” he noted.
Opening the meeting, the Minister for Cabinet Affairs, Protais Musoni, who is also the care-taker of the Ministry of Information, stressed that the country is determined to promote transparency and good governance.
“We acknowledge the role the law can play in improving open and transparent governance, increase citizen awareness of policies and programmes being implemented on their behalf, and accelerate social economic development,” he said.
Musoni added that enhancing flow of information promotes accountability and a sense of trust among the people and public authorities, thereby combating corruption and other forms of public wrongdoing.
Patrice Mulama, the Executive Secretary of the Media High Council (MHC), said that through the bill, the media would be able to carry out investigative, analytical, financial and developmental journalism with more official and credible sources of information.
“We hope that with the enactment of an access to information law, Rwanda will speed up the process of ushering in a culture of official openness, transparency and accountability in governance,” he mentioned.
Frederick Karangwa, a representative of Rwanda Civil Society Platform, called for a deeper and wider sensitisation of the bill among the general public.
The forum was organised by MHC, Article 19 Eastern Africa, and the Office of the Ombudsman.