Strengthening right to information takes a step forward in Niue
November 9, 2022
(Alofi, Niue) 8 November 2022 – The Niue Government has taken another step to enhance the rights to information of all its people. It teamed up with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to host the Open Government and Right to Information (RTI) workshop with government officials and those involved in policymaking and information sharing, from November 7-8 in Alofi, Niue.
This will continue the local awareness-raising on RTI and build on a presentation by UNDP to Niue’s Parliament on Open Data and RTI in March 2022, which refers to the rights of all people to request access to information held by their governments. Currently, Niue does not have RTI laws or the right within its Constitution.
While RTI usually indicates the creation of legislation, Open Government can refer to anything that supports the principles of transparency, integrity, accountability, and stakeholder participation. This means there is a lot that can be done outside of the creation of laws, such as a policy on what information should be proactively disclosed to the public.
“The right to access government-held information is a critical component of democracy and a foundational pillar of open government. It enables citizens to participate more fully in public life and helps to combat corruption,” said Justin Kamupala, Solicitor General, Crown Law Office, Niue. “Improving the right to information is not necessarily about fixing a broken system. Rather, we should view it as an opportunity to enhance and build on the good things that we do for the public, and there are many instances where we are already doing this, such as stakeholder consultations.”
Workshop participant, former Member of Parliament, journalist, and owner of the only newspaper in Niue, said this workshop couldn’t have come at a better time. “The right of people to information is a critical part of any democracy. This is especially crucial for a small island like Niue where everyone knows everyone, and where the coconut wireless can often be the source of information. But official information needs to be readily available and accessible to the people to allow them to make informed decisions, especially as we head into elections,” said Michael Jackson, Owner, Niue Star newspaper.
Supported by the UNDP Samoa Multi-Country Office, and the UNDP Pacific Office through the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) Project, the workshop is part of a series of integrity-strengthening efforts in Niue.
“UNDP is delighted to be supporting the Right to Information efforts in Niue through fostering regional dialogue and exchanges such as the knowledge-sharing event this week. We remain committed to further supporting the development of the full right-to-information framework for Niue and look forward to continued dialogue and cooperation on the next steps,” said Christina Mualia Lima, Assistant Resident Representative – Governance, UNDP MCO.
“This initiative is part of the comprehensive efforts of UNDP to support the policy, legislative and awareness efforts on the right to information across the Pacific. In building on these existing efforts, the work in Niue aims to create awareness of Right to Information and Open Government, including discussion on steps public officials can take outside of law reform to help support Open Government. These discussions could potentially also inform further dialogue on potential policy and institutional reforms,” said regional UNDP Anti-Corruption Adviser, Sonja Stefanovska-Trajanoska.
The workshop included RTI experts from Vanuatu, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the Ombudsman New Zealand Office, Niue Government officials, Village Council chairpersons and media representatives to progress the RTI and Open Government agenda.
The UN-PRAC Project is a joint initiative by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), supported by the New Zealand Government. The Samoa MCO works closely with the governments of Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau as well as Non-Government Organizations on development programmes in the areas of Democratic Governance, Sustainable Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction, Crisis Prevention and Recovery, Environment and Energy, and Gender Mainstreaming.
UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet. Learn more at www.undp.org
For more information or media interviews, please contact:
Laufaleaina Lesa, Communications Analyst, UNDP Multi Country Office, Samoa
| Tel. +685 23670 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.ws.undp.org
Tomoko Kashiwazaki, Communications and Advocacy – UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji.
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