The South African Human Rights Commission has a specific mandate set out by the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000, to promote the right to access information and monitor compliance with the legislation.
Since the inception of the legislation, the Commission has committed its resources to heighten awareness, monitor compliance and provide assistance to members of the public to assert their right to information. The Commission carries out its PAIA mandate through the PAIA Unit and has designed programmes to implement the Commission’s mandate, including:
- Training and assistance to DIOs
- Compliance Audits
- Receipt of compliance reports and manuals from both the public and private sector
- Consultation and assistance to requesters
- Research and publications
- Law reform
- SAHRC compliance with PAIA
- The National Information Officers Forum and CC
Article contents by The South African Human Rights Commission.
In terms of section 51 of PAIA, the head of a private body must:
- compile a section 51 manual which is a roadmap of the company
- submit the manual to the South African Human Rights Commission
- effect material changes if any each time these occur and resubmit to the SAHRC
- update any material changes on the manual on a regular basis;
- make the manual available as prescribed by the Act at the company offices and on their website;
- must annex a request form to the manual and also make request form available on the website and at the company premises access points;
- there are penalties for non compliance – please see section 90 of PAIA
The manual must among others contain the following information:
- details of the company’s postal, email and street address, fax and phone of the company,
- the description of available records generated by the company stating those which are automatically available and those that are available on request.
- outline the request procedure in terms of PAIA;
- state who the head of the company is (CEO is usually the Information Officer in terms of PAIA)
- stipulate the fees applicable as legislated by the Act which are chargeable to requesters
- remedies available to requesters if their request for information has been refused
- details facilitating request for access to a record etc.