ODESUDI trains The New Times Journalists on access to information and sobanukirwa website

Journalists are indispensible in the promotion of access to information rights in Rwanda and are key partners and targets of ODESUDI’s FOI activities. With the assistance of the New Times management ODESUDI organized a training session for the New Times staff on access to information and sobanukirwa website.

ODESUDI realizes the importance of access to information in enhancing investigative journalism as a way of promoting accountable governance in Rwanda. The article written by the New times using information got from https://sobanukirwa.rw/request/ikib... http://odesudi.org/spip.php?article1 is a good demonstration of the role of access to information in carrying out investigative Journalism.

ODESUDI team trained the New times staff on FOI general principles, international legal instruments and the general Rwandan access to information legal framework. The principles discussed included the principle of access to information to be an inherent right and a cornerstone to all other social, economic and political rights; the principle of maximum and proactive disclosure; public interest override principle; the principle of a clear and unambiguous legal procedures of access to information and procedures of appeal.

The trainer Mr. Fredrick Hendrick Karanganwa, took the New Times staff through sobanukirwa website and how it can help them access information in simple ways. He explained that team sobanukirwa has incorporated contacts of 540 public authorities in the website. He said information is power and that the Government of Rwanda is committed to building the capacity of its citizen as the source and engine of the country’s economic development, hence, access to information is an indispensible tool in achieving this objective.

He said that under Rwandan Law N° 04/2013 of 08/02/2013 relating to Access to Information issued on 11th of March 2013. The justification for citizens’ access to information is to promote accountability of public institutions and enhance citizens’ participation in government programs. The access to information Law….provides reasons of access to information as to keep the public regularly and adequately informed about the existence of any danger to public health or safety or to the environment; to ensure that the expenditure of public funds is subject to effective management and oversight. It is in this regard that ODESUDI in partnership with Tumenye a local company have developed an access to information website entitled www.sobanukirwa.rw this website is now operational in three national languages English Kinyarwanda and French and it already has 10,000 users.

He said that the website makes it easy to submit information requests by creating pages for authorities in Rwanda where people can send requests straight to information officers. It makes all information requests and replies from information officers public on the internet so that it is easy for anyone to search for public information which has been requested and released.

Journalist talked about the challenges they encounter while looking for information for news purposes. They said that sometimes the officers in charge don’t respond or respond when it is too late to use information for news. They asked ODESUDI team whether there are penalties that are provided under Rwandan Law for not providing information.