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Ghana hosts conference to advance right of access to information in Africa

Former US President Jimmy Carter will lead the African Regional Conference on the Right of Access to Information, holding 7-9 F e bruary, 2010, in Accra, Ghana, the Atlanta-based Carter Centre announced Tuesday .

Organized by the Carter Centre and its partners in Africa, the conference seeks to develop a regional action plan with specific guidance for African nations to f unction as an addendum to the 2008 Atlanta Declaration and Plan of Action for th e Advancement of the Right of Access to Information.

Among other things, the conference will urge States to integrate promotion of th e right of access to information into their own national development and growth s trategies and sectoral policies.

Currently, only five African countries have a statutory right to information and of these, some laws are being used repressively and others not implemented.

According to the Carter Centre, which has worked for access to public informatio n since 1999, many obstacles continue to exist over the passing and implementati o n of further legislation, including a failure of political leadership, a culture

of secrecy, low public awareness, and institutional barriers.

â?We are bringing stakeholders together to consider the issues in a meaningful way and will come up with a concrete action plan to move forward the right of ac c ess to information in Africa,â? said Laura Neuman, project manager of the access to information initiative at the centre.

The conference will bring together more than 100 participants representing regio nal and international institutions, governments, civil society, media, academia,

and the private sector from at least 15 countries in Africa.

The Centre worked on access to public information in the last 10 years with a sp ecial focus in Jamaica, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Mali, and China to support the estab l ishment of comprehensive laws and voluntary disclosure strategies and assist the i r implementation and enforcement.

A non-profit, non-governmental organization, the Carter Centre has worked at the regional level with organizations such as the Organization of American States, t he World Bank, and regional civil society networks.

Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, founded the Centre in 1982, in partnership with E mory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.


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