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Seychelles observes international day of universal access to information | 29 September 2020

Seychelles observes international day of universal access to information

Ms Dogley (Photo: Jude Morel)

No year could be more appropriate than 2020 for the world to celebrate the official global commemorative day for Universal Access to Information.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed how important it is for information to flow freely and serve as the basis for decision-making by both governments and citizens.

Never is access to information as important as at times when critical decisions are being made that will affect lives, livelihoods and rights.

Universal access to information means that everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart information for healthy and inclusive knowledge societies. This year’s theme is focused on the right to information in times of crisis and on the advantages of having constitutional, policy guarantees for public access to information to save lives, build trust and help the formulation of sustainable policies through and beyond the Covid-19 crisis.

“Seychelles is committed to access to information through its Constitution (ARTICLE 28) and the access to information’s Act, 2018. We have over 120 information officers in place in public bodies. And we are celebrating a day as a reminder to everyone that the access to information means that everyone has the right to seek, receive and impart information,” said Thereza Dogley, the chief executive of the Information Commission.

When asked about whether or not the commission gets involved in regards to fake news and misinformation, she noted that the Commission is a facilitator and a regulator and requires an appeal before they can act.

She noted that currently she is not aware of any information officer being party to any misinformation.

Regarding the Covid-19 crisis, Ms Dogley remarked that Seychelles handled the passing on of information better than most country.

Two major elections will take place in less than a few weeks, and fake news and false accusations play a big role in swaying the votes. To make sure that the right information is being given out Ms Dogley said “two political parties have information officers that fact check their information before it is given to the general public, the others do not as they don’t receive GOS funding. The officers giving out information must be careful that they give accurate information. As under section 67 of the ATI Act it is an offence to falsify information or make a false record”.

She added that training has also been provided to information officers to ensure that they give out accurate information.

 

Christophe Zialor

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