AFRICA/SWAZILAND-Denied access to public information for "security reasons"
Mbabane (Agenzia Fides) - Many public officials in Swaziland do not believe that access to information is a right for everyone but a privilege that can be withdrawn at any time. If it is diffult for adult citizens to get public information, for children it is quite impossible. This is a particularly serious phenomenon in a country where 26% of people in the age group between 15 and 49 years are infected with HIV and where, according to UNICEF estimates, about 70 000 children are orphans because of this disease. Because of this situation, the number of child headed households is very high, and for them it would be necessary to have access to information, since they have the responsibility to make decisions on family matters. Public institutions in the country deny access to citizens claiming that the requested information related to national security, privacy, trade secrets, public safety could threaten the effectiveness of government decision-making. In this respect a study entitled "Right to Know, Right to Education Project" was promoted, and the countries which have adhered are: Swaziland, Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. The research deals with the right to information for everyone. Information is one of the main tools which has to be available to citizens to keep them updated on any topic, and this project should also help them in the impact on the education of their children through the participation in decision-making of schools. In the country, access to information is also banned to journalists. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 13/09/2011)
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