The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (the Centre) will be hosting an Access to Information and Elections in South Africa symposium on 10 and 11 November 2022 at the University of Pretoria. The symposium is hosted in collaboration with the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), the Information Regulator (IR), the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA).
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In 2019, the Centre commissioned a study to assess South Africa’s compliance with Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections in Africa (the Guidelines) during the 2019 national and provincial elections. The output was a report titled ‘Proactive Disclosure of Information and Elections in South Africa’. The Guidelines is a soft law instrument developed by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission). It derives from article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which guarantees the right of access to information. Member States are required to give effect to the right of access to information through legislative and other measures. The Guidelines emphasise the realisation of the right of access to information during African elections. States are required to create an environment that promotes proactive disclosure of credible information during elections.
To this end, the Guidelines obligate state parties to adopt measures to ensure electoral stakeholders proactively disclose information of public interest to promote the transparency and integrity of election processes, and meaningful participation in elections by an informed electorate. These electoral stakeholders include: appointing authorities of Election Management Bodies (EMBs); EMBs; political parties and candidates; law enforcement agencies; election observers and monitors; media and internet regulatory bodies; media and online media platform providers; and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). In this regard, the Centre aims to implement a structured and deliberate advocacy strategy for the consideration and implementation of the Guidelines, and recommendations of the South Africa elections study.
The CHR, therefore, seeks to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations towards promoting transparent elections and improving access to information ahead of the 2024 national and provincial elections. It is on the basis of this objective that the Access to Information and Elections in South Africa symposium will be held.