Access to information held by bodies is one of the most important information rights in the information society. Everyone has experienced the feelings of rejection, isolation, and frustration that arise when they did not know something that others did know. Unless there are good reasons, information should be free – there should be freedom of information. Public bodies should give the public all information relating to things to enables citizens to make decisions and form opinions. Access enables us to:
- keep check on public bodies, and
- enforce or protect our rights against public and private bodies.
Often, without information, our freedom or rights are severely curtailed.
Information is power
We provide various legal services regards access and freedom of information. We are experts in this field and have much experience with it over many years.
Access to Information Laws
There are various laws in different parts of the world. They have different names, but they amount to the same thing. Some are called freedom of information act or right to information act. The big difference between South Africa and other countries is that South Africa promotes access to information held by both public and private bodies, whilst the rest of the world only promotes access to information held by public bodies.
- South Africa has the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA Act).
- Canada has the Access to Information Act (AIA).
- England has the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
- The United States has their Freedom of Information Act.
- Australia has the Freedom of Information Act.
- India has the Right to Information Act (RTIA).
- Kenya deals with it in their Constitution.
How we help the holders of information
- Comply with the laws on access or freedom of information that apply to you by attending our workshop.
- Advise you on whether or not to allow or deny access when a requester request access.
- For South Africa, draft an Access to Information Manual or PAIA Manual. Alternatively, review your existing PAIA Manual to ensure it complies with the latest law, especially POPI. Provide you with PAIA forms or PAIA templates.
- Help you to appoint your Information Officer properly, including a job specification and letter of appointment.
- Audit your compliance with access to information laws.
- Draft or review your Access to Information Policy (AIP). Ensure your Information Management Policy ties in with your AIP.
How we help requesters get access to information
- Get access to records held by an organisation by getting our advice and assistance, or attending our workshop.
- Ask us to complete a request form on your behalf.
- If you have been refused access, we can appeal on your behalf or take legal action.