29 Nov 2007

Pacific needs to recognise importance of freedom of information laws - UNDP official

8:12 pm on 29 November 2007

A number of Pacific countries are working towards legislation on Freedom of Information, but say they have a long way to go.

The issue is being discussed at a conference of information commissioners, and ombudsman, in Wellington this week.

Charmaine Rodrigues from the United Nations Development Programme in Fiji, says it is trying to support governments and civil society to recognise FOI as a democracy AND a development issue.

"The right to information is very much about engaging people with their own governments and with their own development. If they can get acccess to information, on their terms, then they can start asking questions that mean something to them. I think that's very important in the Pacific, where we're still trying to get people to connect, or reconnect with their own governments."

Charmaine Rodrigues says she suspects if the connection between poverty reduction, good governance and FOI is made clearer, it would move up the political agenda.