14 June 2018

Malawi: MHRC Gives Govt Up to July to Operationalise Access to Information Law

Photo: Daily Monitor

Malawi Human Rights Commission MHRC) has given the government up to July 1 to operationalise the Access to Information law which was assented into law in 2017.

Commissioner Benedicto Kondowe however fell short of what the state human rights body would do if the government fails to put into effect the law.

"We are giving the minister up to July to announce when the Access to Information law will come into effect," he said.

Parliament mandated MHRC to operationalise the ATI.

Director of Information Gedion Munthali said it is the wish of the government to operationalise the ATI.

Minister of Information is supposed to write MHRC to trigger the operationalisation of the law.

Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi said the rolling out of the law involves the coordination of three parties--his ministry, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC).

He said, among other things, his ministry was preoccupied with the ground work while the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs needed to enact the regulatory framework as MHRC expanded its role as an independent supervisor and recruited information officers.

"When all is in place administratively, the minister will make a day for implementation. It is not the will of the government to sit on this very important Act," Dausi said, urging people to be patient until the operationisation of the law.

Government approved a Policy on ATI in January 2014, and National Assembly passed the ATI Bill in December 2016 and the President assented to it in February 2017.

The ATI law compliments a right that is guaranteed to Malawians under the constitution so it is a very critical piece of legislation in any functional democracy


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