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Thursday, 14 June 2018 15:06

MHRC commends Ministry of Information on ATI

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Participants pose for a group photo at the workshop Participants pose for a group photo at the workshop Slyvester Kumwenda

Lilongwe, June 14: Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has expressed satisfaction with the goodwill shown by the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT) in ensuring that implementation of Access to Information Act comes soon.

MHRC Commissioner, Benedicto Kondowe on Tuesday made the remarks on the sidelines of the orientation workshop for the media and Nongovernmental Organizations on ATI at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe.

“Our desire as a commission is that perhaps by July, the minister should appoint the commencement date because the law specifically reserves the appointment of the commencement date into the hands of the minister.

“And we are pleased that there is a lot of goodwill from the MoICT in ensuring that this act should be rolled out.

And we hope that if we are to comply with our roadmap; we should be able to ensure the commencement date from the minister as soon as possible,” said Kondowe.

Commissioner Kondowe said the workshop is one of the few preparatory activities that need to be conducted towards the commencement of the law. He said these preparatory activities, which need to be concluded by end of June 2018; are crucial as they will orient different stakeholders involved in the law before its actual implementation.

“In this case, we have this orientation for members representing targeted media houses and heads of nongovernmental organizations.

“The whole idea is to orient them on what the law entails and the various responsibilities and obligations which have been placed on each one of them,” said Kondowe.

In the ATI, the HRCM has been granted the powers to enforce and provide oversight function while the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology has been given the powers to provide policy direction.

In case of any impediments in beating the July target; Kondowe said the HRCM would continue working hand in hand with the MoICT in order to build a common understanding for the betterment of Malawians.

Director of Information, Gedion Munthali said government would have preferred to start implementing the ATI immediately after its enactment but room was given to cater for some other equally important technicalities.

These, he said include mapping; which requires bringing in all stakeholders involved in the implementation of the ATI, identifying Information holders in all the institutions, validation of the communication strategy by all stakeholders and raising awareness.

“This law intends to benefit everyone including government, the general public, organizations and even the media. As such, every concerned party needs to understand the ATI and what is happening.

“But as of now, works are progressing on very well and we are happy that we are now approaching the end of this work,” said Munthali.

Parliament enacted the ATI law in 2016 and was assented to by the Head of State Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika in February, 2017.