Hon. Nicodemus Ajaik, South Sudan Information Commissioner launches the 3-year Access to Information Strategic Plan during the Access to Information Day event in Juba ©UNESCO Juba Office
Over sixty (60) stakeholders from the Information Commission, Ministry of Information, independent oversight commissions, lawyers, CSOs, journalists and media association representatives participated at this year’s International Day for Universal Access to information in Juba, South Sudan.
In an effort to work towards operationalization of the South Sudan Access to Information Act 2013, the South Sudan Information Commission with support from UNESCO through its Multi-Donor Project Fund on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists launched the Commission’s 3-year (2020-2022) Strategic Plan. The launch was held during the national event marking the International Day for Universal Access to Information. The document details five (5) key strategic priority areas that the Information Commission has set-out to implement during the 3-year period.
In his opening remarks, Hon. Nicodemus Ajaik Bior, Commissioner, South Sudan Information Commission, stated that the strategic plan was largely informed by the need to successfully implement the Right of Access to Information Act 2013, which was passed by Parliament and signed into law by the President in 2013.
“This strategic plan systemized documentation is to remind ourselves in the Commission what we have to do, when and how. It is our internal guiding document for delivering the core operational services, for internal management, and for developing a world class right of access to information regime in the country, the region and beyond”, the Commissioner added.
This year’s national celebration was organized by the South Sudan Information Commission, with support from UNESCO and UNMISS Rule of Law Advisory Section. The event was marked under the theme: “Access to Information-leaving no one behind!” Speaking on behalf of UNESCO South Sudan Country Representative and presenting the Director General’s speech on the occasion, Ms. Doreen Loboka, UNESCO Communication Specialist noted that, “the unprecedented digital transformation of our era is also leading to new forms of inequality. To combat this, digital innovation must go hand in hand with the obligation of Member States to adopt and improve legislation for public access to information. Through implementing laws, investing in relevant infrastructure, and engaging civil society and young people in particular, access to information can protect human rights and drive sustainable development”.
UNESCO continues to play a leading role in building inclusive knowledge societies through the promotion of freedom of expression, media development, and universal access to information. The Organization is also responsible for monitoring this vital issue in line with Sustainable Development Goal target 16.10, which calls for us to “ensure public access to information and protect fundamental freedoms”.