Full Information discloser will enhance citizens participation in electoral processes: AFIC Report
Access to information empowers the electorate to be be well informed about the political processes with due regard to there best interest.
In a bid to foster citizens participation, credible and free electoral processes in Africa, Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) and other stakeholders have highlighted the need for citizens to access electoral processes information to ensure they make informed decision while choosing their leaders in elections.
AFIC in a project that conducted a project from July 2020, the findings indicated that lack of information to election processes has undermined citizens participation in the processes, increased mistrust of the outcomes of election processes.
The project according to Gilbert Sendugwa AFIC Executive Director, aimed at enhancing transparency and accountability in electoral processes in Africa especially in Uganda, Gambia, and Zambia. He sad that there is need to promote access to information, increase participation of citizens and enhance proactive discloser of information by elections bodies.
“Lack of access to information has affected the ability of citizens in Africa to effectively and meaningfully participating in elections. We seek to bridge the gap of citizens access to information in elections. Election in Africa in the finding are characterized by secrecy, malpractices, lack of trust for processes and outcomes” he said.
During a one day stakeholders training held at Fairway Hotel on Thursday 26th November 2020, Gilbert said that there is need to have appropriate laws implemented to enable people access and use information in elections to allow high voter participation including informing on candidates, voting dates, guidelines among others in the forthcoming general elections in Uganda.
“while the government of Uganda prepare for this important step to democratic governance, it should adhere to human rights standards like the right to access to information to ensure a free and fair elections in 2021” he said.
The findings from the study by AFIC to study the stage of Access to information in elections in comparison to the Africa Union standards requirements include:
Poor implementation of proactive discloser in public institutions like Electoral Commission and others against the proactive discloser of electoral processes Information, on management of of information the information is stored in unusable formats, there is limited discloser, no guidelines by electoral bodies in granting access to information among others.
While presenting the findings Gilbert recommended to parliament to use their oversight role and compel ministers to comply to Access to information law and ensure the process of selecting and appointment of electoral bodies to be transparent and allow public participation. He urged security authorities to refrain from exercising excessive force which he said undermines citizens to exercise their rights while to political parties, he called upon political parties to disclose their finance soruces among others.
The Africa Commission on Human Rights and People’s rights adopted guidelines to provide direction to relevant elections stakeholders who have a duty to proactively disclose information in their possession or control that are necessary for safeguarding the integrity and legitimacy of electoral processes.