The link between access to information and elections The right of access to information guaranteed by Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter)is an invaluable component of democracy, as it goes a long way in facilitating participation in public affairs. The importance of the right of access to information is underpinned by the fact that it is a cross cutting right. It is a right that is necessary for the realisation of other human rights, including the right to participate in government directly or through freely chosen representatives, as guaranteed by Article 13 of the African Charter.
Access to information empowers the electorate to be well informed about political processes with due regard to their best interests: to elect political office holders; to participate in decision-making processes on the implementation of laws and policies; and to hold public officials accountable for their acts or omissions in the execution of their duties. Thus, access to information is a foundational requirement of the practice of democratic governance. It has been rightly stated that: ‘No democratic government can survive without accountability and the basic postulate of accountability is that people should have information about the functioning of government.’1 It is the responsibility of State Parties to create an atmosphere that fosters access to information and to ensure ‘adequate disclosure and dissemination of information’ in a manner that offers ‘the necessary facilities and eliminates existing obstacles to its attainment.’