4 Aug 2006

Pacific urged to promote freedom of information

5:21 pm on 4 August 2006

The Pacific Island region is being urged to bring in freedom of information laws in a bid to promote better governance.

Civil Society representatives from 11 Pacific Island countries have been attending a three-day seminar on the issue in the Fiji capital of Suva, which ends on Monday.

The seminar has looked at citizen's rights to information from their governments and the need for more transparency, accountability and participation.

Maja Daruwala, the director of the New Delhi-based international NGO, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, is one of the guests.

Mrs Daruwala says leaders in the region are bucking a global trend and are obliged to bring in freedom of information laws.

"If democracies are to go from being elected democracies to being participatory and consultative democracies, then you need to have an informed citizenry, which means give and take of information which is held by the government."

Mrs Darwala says such laws are designed to reduce corruption and increase the accountability of governments.