The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)-Malawi Chapter has asked Malawi government to implement the Access to Information (ATI) Law.
MISA-Malawi has echoed the remarks in a statement released in relation to the commemoration of the 2018 International Right to Know Day to raise awareness of the importance of the right to access information.
According to the statement that has been signed by MISA-Malawi Chapter Chairperson, Teresa Ndanga, the right to seek access and receive information is guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The right is vindicated further by Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Article 4 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, and it is also recognised under Section 37 of the Malawi Constitution.
MISA has commended Malawi President, Peter Mutharika, for assenting to the Access to Information (ATI) Bill on February 10, 2017, making Malawi one of the few countries in Africa with a law on Access to Information.
“However, about a year and eight months since President Mutharika assented to the Bill, the government, and the Minister of Information in particular, has failed to appoint a date on which the ATI Act will come into operation,” reads the statement.
The statement adds that “Therefore, 2018 Right to Know Day commemoration provides another opportunity for MISA Malawi and all Malawians of good will to remind the government of the need for the speedy implementation of the Access to Information Act of 2017.”
“MISA Malawi is gravely concerned with government’s snail pace in the implementation of the Act and calls on the Minister of Information and Communication Technology to swiftly set a date for implementation of the Act for the sake of transparency and accountability, apart from conforming to the dictates of the law.”
The day, which falls on September 28 every year, offers an opportunity to cast the spotlight on the challenges that hamper the enjoyment of the right to access information.
International Right to Know Day began in 2002 when freedom of information organisations from around the world converged in Sofia, Bulgaria, and created a global coalition to promote the right of access to information.