The Media Institute of Southern Africa, Malawi Chapter (MISA Malawi) joins the rest of the world in commemorating the 2018 International Right to Know Day to raise awareness of the importance of the right to access information.
The day, which falls on September 28 every year,also 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 for all people and the benefits of open, transparent, and accountable governments.
MISA Malawi has always championed the fundamental human right to ask for, and receive, information held by public organisations and bodies and recognises that it is critically important to make sure information held by public and in some cases private institutions, is available and accessible to all citizens.
The right to seek, access and receive information is guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 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. It is also recognised under Section 37 of the Malawi Constitution.
Thus, when President Peter Mutharika assented 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, MISA Malawi applauded the move and celebrated such a historic moment with expectations.
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.
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.
MISA Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga
Cell: +265 999 247 911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
MISA Malawi National Director Aubrey Chikungwa
Cell: +265 999 327 311 or email email@example.com