Right to access information with focus on its limitation by way of public interest in Tanzania: Challenges and Prospects

Access to information, like most other rights, is not an absolute right and it can be restricted in variety of instances such as for the purposes of protection of public interest. Beside the fact that Tanzanian access to information law limits certain information from public access for the purpose of protecting public interest, it is very important to know defects of this limitation and challenges posed by it. Thus, this paper examines provision(s) which provide public interest as a ground for disclosure or non-disclosure of information in Tanzania in order to see their effectiveness in promoting right to access information. The paper finds that, while public interest is a ground for refusal of disclosure of information, there is no definition of what is considered to be or not to be in the public interest in Tanzanian access to information law, leaving that to the discretion of the information holders approached. Consequently, the paper reveals that the Access to Information Act, 2016, lack important provision regarding public interest override which can guarantee disclosure of information if public interest so demands. The author concludes that there is the need for the parliament to amends the Access to Information Act, 2016, to include provision(s) which, among other things, will eliminate the aforementioned challenges.