The United Nations in Malawi has hailed government’s swift gazetting of the date to operationalise the Access to Information (ATI) Act from 30th September this year.
A statement from the UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres said the Act represents an important step forward in the consolidation of good governance and human rights.
It noted that with this milestone, Malawi has become a role model to other countries in the region and beyond.
“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.
“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,” said Torres.
The UN further noted that the Act will also help in the fight against corruption hence commended the Whistle-Blower provisions in the law, which protects disclosure of confidential information where it is in the public interest, especially where it exposes corruption, abuse of public office and human rights violations.
It called on government to ensure adequate funding to the Malawi Human Rights Commission to be able to independently monitor the implementation of the Act and to raise awareness on its effective use.