Implementing the Access to Information Law in Rwanda

Article 19 training workshop on data and record management

Article 19 training workshop on data and record management (Photo: Article 19)

ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa assisted in the development of the “Law on Access to Information” in Rwanda, which was finally adopted in March 2013. In a second step, the organization promoted its implementation by sensitising both government and civil society to what the law entails. ARTICLE 19 trained more than sixty participants in 2013 and conducted  follow up workshops with them in 2014 to see how they had made use of the training content in the meantime. The workshops were conducted in collaboration with the Office of the Ombudsman, which is the government department tasked with overseeing the implementation of the Act.

During the workshops, civil society participants pointed out major challenges they were facing. These included receiving access only to information deemed non-controversial, not knowing whom to contact for information requests, and relying on personal relationships with government actors in order to access any information at all. ARTICLE 19 emphasised the need to create a demand for information from citizens, in order to promote the development of institutional structures and thus increase access to information. Public officials explained that they often referred information requests to their seniors when assessing them as “too official”. ARTICLE 19 in partnership with the Office of the Ombudsman and the Rwanda Governance Board reminded participants of their obligations under the Act and clarified the limitations of the right to information when denying or deferring information requests. The workshop sessions attracted extensive media interest and were covered by both Radio 10 (87.5FM) and TV10.

ARTICLE 19 also supported the celebrations of the Right to Information Day 2014. On September 28, Forum des Jeunes, an umbrella organisation for youth actors, trained twenty-five of its representatives on Right to Information issues, thus enabling them all to submit individual information requests.

By ARTICLE 19 – Eastern Africa

Download Rwanda RTI Law simplified (pdf)
Download Training Manual for Public Officials on Freedom of Information (pdf)

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East Africa: Bolstering media self-regulation and right to information