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Kenya celebrates Universal Access to Information Day

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) in collaboration with Katiba Institute and Transparency International Kenya (TI) have come together to commemorate the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).

On November  17,2015, the United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) made history by declaring  September 28 International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).

State Department for Broadcasting and Telecommunication Principal Secretary Esther Koimett said that universal access to information means that everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart information.

“Kenya’s open governance is anchored in the 2010 constitution which includes access to information obligations that require the government to publish and publicize any important information affecting the country,’ said Ms Koimett.

In a speech read on her behalf by the Government Spokesperson Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna, Ms  Koimett noted that Kenya is one of the global leaders in the Open Governance Partnership adopted in Kenya’s National Action Plan.

“When it comes to media, Kenya made a switch from analogue to digital broadcasting in 2015, paving way for rapid growth and equally important is the place of information in the work that media does in agenda setting, educating audiences and promoting public interest, ‘she reiterated.

Speaking at a hotel in Nairobi, the MCK Board Chairman Maina Muiruri stated that over the years our country has made great strides towards access to information and has been at the forefront in ratification of international laws and treaties as well as development and implementation of access to information laws.

“The right of information is a fundamental right and an integral part of freedom of expression and freedom of the media according to article 33 and 34 of the constitution of Kenya,” said Muiruri.

He added that the constitution under article 35 and the access to information act 2016, not only protects citizens’ rights and media to access all information held by public bodies but also to disclose all information in their possessions, with few exceptions.

“The media plays a vital role in providing information to the public on issues of interest and should always strive to ensure that the information provided to the public is accurate and reliable,” stated Muiruri.

He further noted that journalists rely on the ability to access information as a tool for investigative and public interest journalism while it enhances efforts by the media in combating fake news and misinformation.

“As we commemorate this day, let us use this opportunity to progress discussions on laws, policies, strategies, collaborations and measures to enhance access to information,” he echoed.

At the event, MCK launched a new curriculum aimed at training and sensitization on ATI among stakeholders especially journalists and public officers.

By Ella Elizabeth and Lorna Mukami

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