Records and Archives Legal and Policy Frameworks in Uganda
Okello-Obura, Constant, Library Philosophy and Practice
Records are a valuable business asset. They are the lifeblood of the organisation's businesses and therefore should be treated with the utmost concern. One of the key ways organizations are held accountable for their actions is through evidence of business transactions in the form of records. Records and Archives provide platform to access information about the past by researchers, scholars, students, journalists, lawyers, and others who want to know about people, places, and events in the past (Magara, n.d). Without an organized records and archives management framework there is a deficit in information access created. Such deficit contributes to inadequate and improper decision making within organisational and national establishments. To avert the crisis, information provision and attention to records and archives management, preservation and conservation of archival materials need to be anchored in with effective legislative and policy frameworks. Laws have a direct impact on the ways in which governments, organisations and individuals carry out their daily affairs. As well, laws affect the way in which people create and use records since, in virtually all parts of the world, records form the basis for legal evidence. In the case of disputes--between governments and citizens, between organisations and employees, between different levels of government--records are the means for proving or disproving claims or complaints (IRMT 2009). Therefore, understanding how to manage records, requires understanding the legal context in which records can and should be created and managed. Governments use legislation to ensure that its records and archives are appropriately managed and preserved over time for accountability and historical reasons. According to Chibambo (2003), a good records management framework consists of information-related laws, policies and programmes, records management standards and practices, and the necessary qualified human resources to implement and manage the systems. The legal and policy frameworks ensures a strategic approach to building capacity to capture, process, store, use, conserve and preservation records and national heritage.
Statement of the Problem
In a bid to look at records and archives problems in Africa and Uganda in particular, emphasis has been put at: inability by researchers to use archival information; inadequate finding aids; lack of recognition by national governments of the role played by archival institutions; inadequate number of professional archivists; lack of adequate records and archival training schools; poor systems of records and archival arrangement and description; understaffing of records and archival services; poor storage facilities for records; and inadequate retrieval tools (Mnjama, 2005). Despite the fact that Records and archives legislation is considered as an essential component of the wider legislative base of accountable and effective government, the issues of outdated records and archival legislation have not been given enough prominence in Uganda. Where the laws are in place, not much is done to ensure its implementation and effective functioning. The absence of legislation and the existence of ineffective and outdated laws can affect how records are managed. Many countries in developing countries have either weak laws or inactive legislative provisions to promote good records and archives management. Secondly, not much effort have been made to engage legal and policy makers on the need and value of functional legal and policy provisions for records and archives management. This study based on literature review highlights the existing legal and policy frameworks that support the management of records and archives in Uganda and in particular discusses The National Records and Archives Act, 2001 for efficient management of records and archives in Uganda.
The objectives of this study were to: