This program seeks to address poor access to information in Senegal and citizens’ lack of knowledge about their right to information. MIANPBG has established a legislation steering committee to conduct a study on the state of access to information (A2I) in Senegal and harmonize existing A2I texts. Through an intensive lobbying and advocacy campaign, MIANPBG hopes to pass this legislation as well as disseminate information about access to budget and public health information to the general public, civil society, and universities through radio broadcasts and public fora.
Access to information is a key component of the rule of law which ensures citizens have access to education, employment, and health services, as well as the ability to participate in public debates and anti-corruption efforts. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Despite Senegal’s strong performance in many other rule of law factors and the Ministry of Finance’s recent efforts to improve citizens' access to government data, the country still performs poorly in the areas of open government and access to information. According to the WJP Rule of Law Index® 2015, only one-third (32%) of Senegalese believe the government performs well in consulting traditional, civil or community leaders before making decisions. Furthermore, over the past year, 4% of Senegalese have requested information from a government agency, and of that, only 61% received the information they requested. Poor access to information negatively impacts a state’s ability to democratically govern, and particularly affects women, children, and other marginalized groups struggling to claim their rights and access basic services.
This program addresses poor access to information in Senegal, as well as citizens’ lack of knowledge about their right to information and other fundamental rights. The Ministry of Good Governance and Article 19 is addressing these issues through a two-phase program:
- Legislation and Regulatory Framework Review: A review of existing laws is being undertaken in an effort to create a single harmonized legislation on access to information, modeled after Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. In addition to reviewing laws, program implementers are visiting government officials in Mozambique to learn about their experience adopting similar legislation, and are organizing national workshops with stakeholders from civil society, government, and multilateral organizations to plan advocacy activities for passing the legislation into law. These national workshops are being organized in partnership with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Communication.
- Public Outreach: Program implementers are creating a series of flyers to raise public awareness about mechanisms for accessing information on public health and management of government budgets. The flyers are being translated into national languages. In addition to program flyers, program implementers are creating radio shows to relay the same information to illiterate citizens and a series of public forums are also being held in Matam, Kolda, and Kedougou to disseminate this content in person.
This program is creating a stronger regulatory framework for access to information that will modernize the process for obtaining information and protecting citizen data. As a result of the program’s outreach activities, citizens will have a better understanding of their right to information, mechanisms for civic participation and accessing official government data, and how this facilitates improved access to health, education, and other social services.
- ARTICLE 19
- Ministry of Finance
- Ministry of Communication
- National Assembly of Senegal
- Commission for the Protection of Personal Data