Vanuatu preparing for International Right to Know Day

Vanuatu will be commemorating International Right To know day on 28 September with signing of the Second Ministerial Enforcement Order.

The Department of Strategic Policy Planning Cooperation and Aid Coordination stated that once the orders were signed and gazetted, those over 20 government offices and statuary bodies listed in the ministerial order will have to comply fully with right to information Act.

This means they will have to give out information on request under the act for free. Only information that falls under the exemption will be withheld.

International Right to Know Day on 28 September is celebrated annually in Vanuatu through activities organised by Media Association of Vanuatu (MAV) and now with in partnership with the government’s Right to Information unit (RTI) following the inception of RTI act in 2016.

Since the Right to Know day was declared by UNESCO in 2002, every year MAV is organizing conferences and public activities to discuss and raise awareness about freedom of information, promotion of open access and the importance of adopting right to information laws.

RTI unit says to mark the event this year, the Prime Minister has asked all DGs, Acting DGs, Directors, and Acting Directors, and also heads of government statutory bodies covered under the RTI Act, to open their doors to members of the public on 28 September to receive, answer or provide documents to anyone seeking information.

“This exercise covers those covered in the first Ministerial Implementation Enforcement Order and those yet to be covered under the second Order.

The exercise is just for one day for those agencies that are not yet covered under an Order, and will be seen as an “ice-breaking” exercise for all public offices and to test their respective RTI structures in processing applications for information”

The first Ministerial Enforcement Order was signed last year in August covering the departments of customs, Agriculture, Forestry, livestock, tourism statistics and the office of the government chief information officer (OGCIO).

International Right to Know Day began on 28 September  2002, when freedom of information organizations from around the world came together in Sofia, Bulgaria, and created the FOI Advocates Network, a global coalition working together to promote the right of access to information for all people and the benefits of open, transparent, and accountable governments.


Photo file. Caption: Participants at a Right to Information training in Port Vila