Access to information is an essential element of any well-functioning democracy. When implemented effectively, it facilitates transparency, accountability and good governance. It is a right that enables people the opportunity to access information that can be used to protect, promote and fulfill other human rights.
However, despite the passage of more than a decade since the introduction of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to give effect to this right, the application of PAIA remains worryingly low in South Africa.
As part of our commitment to fostering an open information culture, SAHA has developed PAIA Unpacked: A Resource for Lawyers and Paralegals. This guide is a tool for lawyers and paralegals interested in using PAIA, or supporting others in exercising their constitutional right of access to information. It outlines the key requirements of PAIA when making and processing a request for access to a record and examines how those requirements have been interpreted and applied by the judiciary.
The guide has been endorsed by the South African Human Rights Commission with its chairperson, Mr Lawrance Mushwana saying:
"The objectives of the right of access to information to assist people to protect other human rights, promote transparency and accountability can be achieved through education and awarenessraising, as well as, through a sound understanding and interpretation of the enabling law, the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA)...the guide developed by the South African History Archive to serve as a resource for lawyers and paralegals on the scope, application and interpretation of PAIA is a useful one. With practical tools such as the interpretation of important provisions of PAIA by the courts, the guide is a comprehensive resource material that will be very useful to any legal practitioner. It is an important tool that will help users in maximising the true potential that the use of PAIA can achieve in promoting and protecting the ideals of our democracy..."
The tool is not intended as a substitute for reading PAIA itself, but instead aims to provide an accessible reference that will enable requesters and information holders to more easily identify the applicable provisions of PAIA and the relevant case law.
Download PAIA Unpacked: A Resource for Lawyers and Paralegals
To be able to download PAIA Unpacked or any other SAHA publication you need to first be a registered user, click here to register.
Should you not be able to download the guide after registering please use a different browser like; Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.
For more information about SAHA's Freedom of Information Programme (FOIP), please visit http://foip.saha.org.za.