International Day for Universal Access to Information
Tuesday 28th September 2021, Port Moresby – Tuesday 28th September 2021 marks the International Day for Universal Access to Information as declared at the global level by the United Nations (UN) in October 2019 recognising the significance of the rights of citizens to access to information.
On the occasion of this important day, “TIPNG welcomes the announcement at the Open Government Partnership National Conference earlier this month, by the Department of Information and Communication Technology, that public consultation has commenced on a Freedom of Information (FOI) Policy. The draft Policy is available on the Department’s website and is the first important step toward developing a robust Freedom of Information Act which will activate the constitutional rights enshrined in section 51 of the constitution. TIPNG is calling on our parliamentarians to support the Freedom of Information Act as and when it is presented in parliament. The adoption of the Policy and the eventual passing of the Act will ensure that PNG has a robust freedom of information framework.”
“Section 51 of our National Constitution is clear, Papua New Guineans have a right to know more about the activities of their Government and importantly how public monies are spent and how important decisions that impact their lives are made. TIPNG believes the ability of the Public to access timely, accurate and factual information is vital to reinforcing accountability and efficiency in service delivery and will go further to strengthen our democracy.” said Peter Aitsi, TIPNG Board Chair.
In support of FOI TIPNG publish a report in 2019 entitled , “Our Right to Know, Their Duty to Tell”, where it surveyed 24 public agencies to assess levels of accessibility to government information and found that with the absence of an FOI law giving a clear process, agencies had developed a culture of secrecy. An FOI Law would greatly assist the work of citizens such as journalists, environmental protectors, academia and the business community by enabling improved access to public information which in turn should lead to greater levels of transparency in the conduct of government business.
The recently announced Freedom of Information Policy is a precursor to a legislation and subsequent regulations that will require holders of public information by law to properly record, manage and store information and to ensure it is available for access as and when applications are made by citizens under an FOI act. The Policy addresses relevant issues pertaining to access to public information, sets out key objectives and provides a directional statement that will translate into a legislative framework. The public is able to access the draft FOI policy on the Department of Information and Communication Technology website and can make submission up to the 8th October 2021.