Story by George Sanzila
Windhoek – The Action Namibia Coalition submitted its input on the Access to Information Bill (ATI) during a public hearing conducted by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Communication Technology today (29/11/2021).
Action Namibia Coalition is a grouping of activists, civil society and media organizations advocating for a comprehensive ATI legislative framework in Namibia.
At the hearing today, in the company of other organizations such as Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and the Internet Society of Namibia, the coalition raised concerns regarding cabinet proceedings and judicial functions that are excluded from the proposed law on access to information.
They noted that clause 2 (2) (a) (i) exempts cabinet entirely from the Act. They suggested that the clause be removed and substituted by a provision that exempts information on cabinet deliberations only up to 10 years before such information is released.
They argued that a blanket exemption would defeat the purpose of the right of access to information no matter the public interest or passage of time. The Coalition also noted that definitions of nonprofit entities and third party information remained ambiguous and needed to be clarified in the bill.
The coalition further feels the Media Ombudsman should form part of the selecting committee responsible for the appointment of the Information Commissioner in order to promote transparency.
Chairperson of the Standing Committee, Hon. Modestus Amutse noted during the hearing that besides today’s oral presentations, the Committee has also received written submissions.
He further noted that the Committee will visit all the regions to continue to solicit input on the proposed law.