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Samoan NHRI holds high-level dialogue on access to information

Graphic: Participants during the high-level dialogue

Access to information is a key human right that enables the exercise of all other fundamental human rights and holds governments to account.

Access to information empowers the participation of citizens in decision-making and discussions of issues that affect them. It is a key human right that enables the exercise of all other fundamental human rights and holds governments to account and promotes transparency and good governance. 

This was at the centre of a dialogue between senior Samoan Government officials and the National University of Samoa spearheaded by the Office of the Ombudsman in collaboration with UNESCO and the OER Foundation under its Samoa Knowledge Society Initiative. 

During the dialogue, held on 13 October 2021, The Ombudsman said that it was the responsibility of the Government through its institutions to proactively provide an enabling environment (through legislative and non-legislative measures) where official information is shared and made available to the public.

“Various issues were identified by the public and media on many occasions hindering their ability to access important official information. One of these issues includes the belief among public servants that information within their possession including annual reports, for instance, is confidential,” Ombudsman, Luamanuvao Katalaina Sapolu, said.

Ms. Nisha, UNESCO Representative for the Pacific States, emphasised the importance of the right of access to information to create a knowledge society which in turn can effectively contribute to development.

The high-level dialogue provided senior officials from various institutions an opportunity to discuss access to information including the challenges, the types of information that should be made available as well as opportunities to promote this universal right within the public administration context. 

The outcome of the high-level dialogue will inform a follow-up training with public officials on access to information and its importance in promoting good governance, which in turn will help safeguard the human rights of citizens. 

The Office acknowledges the partnership of UNESCO and the Samoa Knowledge Initiative Society for supporting this work. 

Date: 13 October 2021

Source: Office of the Ombudsman Samoa


Image credits

  1. Participants during the high-level dialogue - Office of the Ombudsman Samoa