The right of access to information is a fundamental right recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights since 1946. An informed population can effectively build stable governments and political institutions. This is through holding leaders accountable, influencing service delivery, decision making, promoting and protecting their human rights through free expression . Uganda having ratified the different United Nations human rights conventions has binding international commitments to adhere to the standards laid therein, of which access to information is one of them.
In Greenwatch Vs Attorney General (Miscellaneous Cause No. 232 of 2009), the court held that the oil agreements are public documents with which Ugandans are entitled to access as enshrined in Article 41 of the Constitution of Uganda.
Under article 41 of the Constitution, everyone has the right to have access to any information in the possession of the State or its agencies that is necessary to exercise and protect a right.
On April 11, 2021, the Government of Uganda and partners signed key oil agreements to facilitate the development of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project - a significant milestone towards the attainment of the Final Investment Decision (FID); there are mixed reactions from the general public expressed on social media and Newsprint regarding disclosure of the content of the recently signed agreement. Preliminary agreements signed before the FID include (1) The Uganda Host Government Agreement (HGA) between the Government of Uganda and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) Company, (2) The Shareholders Agreement (SHA), which defines the rights and responsibilities of the shareholders in the EACOP Company, (3) The Tariff and Transportation Agreement (TTA), which defines the rights and responsibilities of the shippers on the one hand, and the transporter on the other hand .
It is our hope that the Governments of Uganda and Tanzania follow the fundamental rights of their citizens to freedom of access to information to ensure proper accountability.
Human Rights (Hand Book for Parliamentarians N0. 26):