RE: Invitation to a One-day Workshop on 'The Model Law on Access to Information'

From: S Moonesamy <>
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 2016 06:51:53 -0800


I added the one-day workshop on "The Model Law on Access to
Information". The workshop started with a speech from the Secretary
of the Bar Council. The Secretary commented that the Bar Council is
only a guest at the workshop and does not have a position on a Access
to Information law.

Mr Maxwell Kadiri, Legal Officer, Open Society Justice Initiative,
gave a presentation about ATI Demystified. Ms Chantal Kisoon,
Gauteng Provincial Manager, South African Human Rights Commission
mentioned that there was a counter about the Freedom of Information
Act on a news site in Mauritius. During the discussion session, Mr
Ish Sookun from LSL Digital, commented about the number of days on
the counter. Ms Sookun quoted the outgoing US ambassador saying that
laws are not applied in Mauritius. The audience seemed to be in
agreement with that comment.

Ms Chantal Kisoon stated that she met with the leadership (in
Mauritius) which was extremely welcoming to Freedom of Information
law. She commented that there wasn't any resistance to a Freedom of
Information law in Mauritius. In her opinion, states has one
pressing priority, which is economic.

Ms Kisoon stated that the evils of apartheid and suppression of
people relied heavily on misinformation. Commenting about the South
African experience, she said that not many public officers were able
to go to their departments and implement it after their
training. She commented that a serious media presence helped in
incentivising for a Freedom of Information law. She commented about
changing the culture in the civil service; people are afraid to lose
their jobs. The South African Human Rights Commission did auditing
compliance to determine how many request were complied with. At the
local government level, local government did hopelessly. One of the
incentives for compliance was that the president changed the
performance contracts of ministers. Ms Kisoon also stated that the
culture of secrecy was inherited from the apartheid state.

I commented, as a representative of the Mauritius Internet Users,
that there was a barrier between what the panelists were saying and
the audience. I suggested that the panelists focus on practical
examples as that might resonate with the audience. I also commented
that the lack of studies of the topic by academia does not help and
that there didn't seem to be the energy on the MACOSS side. There
were around 20 persons in the audience. A member of MACOSS commented
that the organisation comprises 350 Non-Governmental
Organisations. I asked what would be the output of the
workshop. The answer was that there would be a report to MACOSS members.

There was a presentation by Ms Lola Shyllon, Programme Manager,
Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Centre for Human
Rights, University of Pretoria. The Access to Information
obligations of Mauritius in the context of treaties ratified at the
international level is Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights which was ratified by Mauritius on 12 December
1973. At the regional level, Mauritius has only ratified the African
Charter and the African Youth Charter. At the local level, there is
Article 12 (1) of the Constitution.

The MACOSS shared the slides which were presented: VIEWFROMTHEINSIDE.pptx

There were two working group presentations at the end of the workshop
as the audience was given the task to discuss about how a Freedom of
Information law should be like. Mr Sookun gave a representation for
the working group in which I was.

S. Moonesamy
Received on Fri Feb 26 2016 - 14:52:15 PST

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