Cape Town – Eighty one percent of local government structures were not complying with the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), according to an SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) report tabled in Parliament.
“More than a decade after the enactment of PAIA, government should have achieved complete compliance with the legislation,” the SAHRC said in the report it was legally required to provide to the National Assembly.
The act made it a statutory requirement for public and private bodies to be open, transparent and responsive; to voluntarily provide information and ensure access to information on human rights.
The SAHRC said in the public sphere, the lack of political will at the most senior level to comply was “a key problem, which perpetuates the disrespect for the right of access to information”.
It found private bodies used legislative gaps in PAIA – such as the lack of an internal appeal mechanism – to “show indifference”.
Through trade agreements and government contracts, the private sector had significant influence on whether human rights were undermined or realised.
The commission noted the amendment of the magistrate’s court rules allowed applicants to approach a magistrate’s court for further recourse and allowed an increased opportunity for access to justice.
However, there was uncertainty over how many magistrates have been trained to deal with PAIA matters.
Author: Jenni Evans