The United Nations in Malawi has expressed appreciation to the Malawi government for taking a swift action to gazette the date to operationalize the Access to Information Act from 30th September 202.
UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres, observed in a statement issued on Monday that the Act represents an important step forward on good governance and human rights.
"After about 17 years of advocacy for the Act by key stakeholders, the operationalisation of the law is a significant step towards achieving the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development (SDGs), namely target number 10 of SDG 16 which seeks to ensure public access to information. With this milestone, Malawi becomes a role model to other countries in the region and beyond," said Torres.
She stressed that accessing information is a human right, which means that ordinary citizens should be able to get information as an entitlement and not as a favour.
"Moreover, the right to information in accessible formats, including for persons with disabilities, linguistic minorities and the rural poor is important to ensure an inclusive democracy and governance for all persons in Malawi. The Act will also be essential in the fight against corruption. In this regard, the UN commends the Whistle-Blower provisions in the Act, which protect disclosure of confidential information where it is in the public interest, particularly where it exposes corruption, abuse of public office and human rights violations," Torres added.
Meanwhile, the UN has also recognized the role of the Malawi Human Rights Commission to independently monitor the implementation of the Act and to raise awareness on its effective use.
It calls upon the government to ensure adequate funding for the Commission to be able to fulfil this role.