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Oulanyah challenges amendment of Access to Information ActParliament Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, has challenged civil society organizations and other stakeholders advocating for amendments in the access to information Act to get down to the local person who lacks even the basic channels of access to information.

He tasked stakeholders to refocus the discussion on access to information, on how it supports transformational programmes in communities that are less developed.

“The overall purpose of access to information is how it transforms lives of ordinary people and I challenge Civil Society Organizations to carry out a post-legislative scrutiny on how the Access to Information Act has impacted on rural communities who make up the majority of the population,” said Oulanyah.

Oulanyah disclosed this during the commemoration of the International Day for Universal Access to Information at the Kampala Serena Hotel on September 28, 2021.

The annual International Day for Universal Access to Information was commemorated under the theme, “The Right to Know: Building Back Better with Access to Information.”

The theme highlights the role of access to information laws and their implementation to build back strong institutions for the public good and sustainable development, as well as to strengthen the right to information and international cooperation in the field of implementing this human right.

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 access to information Act was passed in 2005 and received presidential assent on July 7, 2005. It came into force on April 20, 2006. The President’s office issued the Commencement Instrument on March 3, 2006, notifying the commencement to all government departments and agencies.

The Executive Director, Africa Freedom of Information, Gilbert Sendugwa said that unequal access to information is undermining efforts of governments and the international community to address the widening inequality.

He also proposed the establishment of a committee responsible to look into the concerns and complaints raised by the public regarding the implementation of the access to information Act.

The Speaker concluded by emphasizing that access to information is critical for enabling citizens to exercise their voice, to effectively monitor and hold the government to account and to enter into informed dialogue about decisions that affect their lives.