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African Human Rights Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 1996-2096
Print version ISSN 1609-073X


OSAWE, Omosede A. A comparative analysis of the right of access to information under the Nigerian Freedom of Information Act 2011 and the South African Promotion of Access to Information Act 2001. Afr. hum. rights law j. [online]. 2022, vol.22, n.2, pp.476-492. ISSN 1996-2096.

The right to information is a multi-faceted right that includes the right to express or disseminate, seek, receive and to impart information. This right of access to public information is crucial in order for citizens to be properly informed, as the greater part of public information is controlled by the state, formed, collected and processed using public resources, which makes it a public possession. Thus, the right not only is a requirement, but an inherent part of human existence. However, the efficacy of an access law is determined by the extent of access actually guaranteed without altering its form or content. This can be assured by adhering to the legal principles governing the right of access. This article adopts the doctrinal methodology in undertaking a comparative study of the Nigerian Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the South African Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). The aim is to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of both access laws, and the article finds that the PAIA is a more potent law in ensuring access to public information. Further, it canvasses that inspiration should be drawn from the robustness of the PAIA in a bid to strengthen the FOIA to guarantee full access to information. The analysis reveals that the PAIA contains more innovative provisions, such as restricted exemptions to access information, measures to promote the right of access and a broader scope of the right of access, which are essential for effective access to public information.

Keywords : Freedom of Information Act; freedom/right of access to information; Promotion of Access to Information Act; public information; Nigeria, South Africa.

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