By: Lailuma Noori
Recognizing the significance of access to information, the 74th UN General Assembly proclaimed 28 September as the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) at the UN level in October 2019. The day had been proclaimed by the UNESCO General Conference in 2015, following the adoption of the 38 C/Resolution 57 declaring 28 September of every year as International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).
The International Day for Universal Access to Information 2020 focuses on the right to information in times of crisis. It also highlights the advantages of having constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information to save lives, build trust and help the formulation of sustainable policies through and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
Afghanistan Commission on Access to Information is praising the United Nations General Assembly step towards creating good governance, transparency, counter corruption and a powerful society. In 1945, Afghanistan got membership of the United Nations and has implemented most of conventions, resolutions and international treaties since. Therefore, the commission is asking the government to support the United Nations’ recent resolution particularly for recognition of 28th Sep as the International Day for Universal Access to Information.
Freedom of expression and media as well as the right of citizens for access to information has been all recognized in the country’s constitution.
Related to access to information, all citizens particularly journalists need to have access to information to reflect news and reports relevant to domestic issues and government officials should provide the information to the journalists, but unfortunately most of government officials have avoided providing information to media.
Afghan journalists and media organizations have always criticized a number of government officials for not providing information to them, considering that not providing information to the media was a clear violation of human rights and against the country’s constitution.
Access to information is the right of each citizen and it should be provided to the people time by time through media as it is an international norm. To fulfill this right of the people, government officials are responsible for providing information to the people.
The country’s commission on access to information is asking all government institutions to inform their media officials of time by time providing information to the people through media, or they will face with legal action by the commission in case if they avoid providing information to the people.
Currently, despite that there is an access to information law, but the people and media are still facing with problems as they have been deprived from having information for years.
It is worth mentioning that in Afghanistan, the access to information law recognizing the rights of citizens to information in all institutions was approved in Oct 2014. The law is ordained in the light of article 50 of the country’s constitution and facilitated access of all citizens to information.