Universal access to information means that everyone has the right to seek, receive and disseminate information. Right to Information is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression. Access to information is recognized as a prerequisite for sustainable development and, as part of right to information, one of the fundamental human rights.
Papua New Guinea celebrates the International Day for Universal Access to Information
September 28, 2022
The 74th United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 28 September as the International Day for Universal Access to Information in October 2019 (previously known as Right to Know Day).
UNDP, within the Preventing and Countering Corruption in Papua New Guinea Project (PNG Anti-Corruption Project) in partnership with Department for Information and Communications Technology organized a Roundtable on Establishing and Implementing the Effective Right to Information System on International Day for Universal Access to Information Day, on 28 September 2022 in the Grand Papua Hotel in Port Moresby.
The roundtable was organized within the PNG Anti-Corruption Project, funded by the European Union and implemented jointly by UNDP and UNODC.
Papua New Guinea is currently finalizing the Right to Information Policy in partnership with Department of Information and Technology Communications UNDP which will lead to development of the Freedom of information legislation.
Minister for Information and Communication Technology, Hon. Timothy Masju, said:
“Right to Information is a requirement under Section 51 of PNG’s Constitution. This Constitutional framework needs to be made enforceable under appropriate legislation. Unfortunately, we do not have a legislation on Freedom of Information since Independence to date. There were previous efforts to develop a legislation on ‘access to information’ but that were never realized. I am pleased to announce now that the Ministry of ICT is giving priority to ensure a Policy and a legislation, giving effect to Section 51 of our Constitution, is realized for our people.”
Minister Masiu said that for PNG to become a knowledgeable society, as captured in the PNG Vision 2050, it must first begin with enabling its citizens easy access to daily government information that they require for planning and decision-making. “The mechanisms that we put in place to enable public to access government information must allow for clear distinction of what is public information that can be accessed and the exemptions such as confidential or secret information.”
Minister Masiu thanked the UNDP, European Union and key partners who are supporting the Government to ensure access to information will be enforceable under relevant legislation.
“The Roundtable examined current efforts in Papua New Guinea to establish and implement a robust Right to Information Policy architecture. It presented an opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of freely available public information for all citizens. Such initiatives greatly contribute to preventing corruption through disclosure which increases transparency and raises standards of accountability,” said Mr. Edward Vrkic, UNDP Officer in Charge. Officer in Charge.
“Under the EU-PNG Partnership for Good Governance, the European Union allocated approximately 100 million Kina for actions aiming at promoting good governance and the respect of the rule of law. I wish to renew the firm commitment of the European Union to stand by the PNG government and civil society to further progress core reforms, including the establishment and implementation of an effective Right to Information System,” said Dr Razvan Silviu Jora, EU Deputy Head of Delegation.
Representatives from the DICT, PMNEC, Interim Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), Ombudsman Commission, National Procurement Commission, the Immigration and Citizenship Authority, OGP Secretariat, Media Council, TI Papua New Guinea and representatives of the Right to Information (RTI) Unit from Vanuatu attended the Roundtable.
The 2022 theme for the International Day for Universal Access to Information is ‘Artificial intelligence, e-governance and access to information’. Right to information for every citizen is recognized in the PNG National Constitution.
The PNG Anti-Corruption Project aims to strengthen the Government’s commitment and capacities to address corruption in line with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).