ATI bill among world’s top legislations


International legal experts have rated Malawi’s Access to Information (ATI) Bill as one of world’s strongest Right to Information (RTI) legislations.

The ATI bill is yet to be passed into law but an analysis by Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) shows that if passed, the bill would become one of stronger laws in the world, ranking in 15th position on the internationally recognised RTI Rating.

Peter Mutharika

Mutharika: Called for the enactment of the Bill.

The experts found that the bill has a number of positive features, including a relatively broad scope, strong promotional measures and a good public interest override.

These factors pushed the ATI bill to a higher  RTI   Rating,   scoring  a   respectable   111   points   out   of   a   possible   150, which   would   make   it   the   fifteenth  best  national  RTI  law  in  the  world, and the  fifth  best in Africa.

This comes at a time when government has refused to table the bill saying that it contains inconsistencies which should be worked on by the cabinet.

CLD also noted that President Peter Mutharika has been demanding that the bill should only apply to information generated after it is adopted,   a move the law experts said would limit the bill’s scope   of   application   and usefulness.

“Restricting the right to information to future documents would dramatically undermine the impact of the law,” said CLD’s Senior Legal Officer, Michael Karanicolas. “Rather than weakening the bill, the priority for the government should now be on getting it passed into law.”

However, the law experts recommended that the proposed law should provide for the establishment of a commissioner for information and that there should be no sanctions if anyone misuses disclosed information.

CLD also recommended that the bill be amended so that people can get information regarding the president and that there should be few exceptions for information regarding personal privacy.

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