Strengthening right to information in Uganda

Public officers and civil society actors come together for a training on "Right to Information: From Policy to Practice, in Entebbe/Uganda

Public officers and civil society actors come together for a Right to Information training in Entebbe/Uganda (Photo: Article 19)

ARTICLE 19 Eastern Africa twice went to Entebbe, Uganda. The first time was in November, 2013 to train government officers and civil society actors on the Access to Information (ATI) Act 2005 and its Operational Guidelines 2011. The second time was in August, 2014, to follow up on how the participants had realised the right to information (RTI) since being trained on it. ARTICLE 19 developed training guides for both public officers and civil society actors and validated these at the initial workshop. It also called for leadership in the implementation of the Act given the six year gap between the passing of the Act and its Operational Guidelines.

Whereas the 2013 workshops tailored the training content separately for public officers and civil society actors, the 2014 workshop brought both groups together.

In her opening remarks for the 2014 workshop, Silvia Biraahwa, Assistant Commissioner from the Office of Information and National Guidance under the Office of the Prime Minister noted the great progress made in realising RTI in Uganda. She cited examples such as the setting up of the forum for government communicators and the increased use of radio stations to spread information.  However, she also noted the challenges caused by the fact that different public bodies implemented RTI according to their different levels of maturity.

Other participants also pointed out how they had made progress since the first training. One of them was Edward Sekyewa, a journalist with Hub for Investigative Media, who had filed a total of 135 information requests to various government departments. 25 requests had been responded to and redress for the denial of 15 of these responses had been sought through litigation.

The workshop brought together participants from both government and civil society, representing among others the Office of the Prime Minister, charged with implementing the Access to Information (ATI) Act, the Ministries of Agriculture and Education and Sports as well as the Uganda Police Force. Enthused by the workshop content and the robust discussions, one participant noted in his feedback form, “disturb us, poke us about our follow up actions and updates from our organisations and institutions.”

By ARTICLE 19 – Eastern Africa

Download press release Uganda should enhance leadership on access to information in the Region (pdf)
Download Training Manual for Public Officials on Freedom of Information (pdf)
Download Training Manual for Civil Societies on Freedom of Information (pdf)

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