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Malawi Human Rights Commission presses for speedy implementation of ATIA

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Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) officials say they need K350 million to successfully implement the Access to Information Act (ATIA).

MHRC Executive Director, David Nungu, said this on Wednesday when the committee appeared before Parliament’s Media Committee to update it on ATIA.

“The financial needs for the commission to efficiently and effectively oversee the implementation of the Act are K335, 759, 140 in total,” Nungu said.

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The current budget for MHRC stands at K28 million.

He said the Act can only be in force once Minister of Information Nicholas Dausi makes a decision on the commencement date in pursuit of Section 1 of the Act.

“Actually, the minister is more than ready to appoint the commencement date. It is us, MHRC, who are not ready. We need financial resources for us to get prepared before the Act is implemented. Our financial base is very thin,” Nungu said.

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He said the commission needs to engage in massive awareness campaign to inform the public about their right to access information before asking the minister to trigger implementation of the Act.

He said the commission has developed a communication strategy for its responsibilities under the Act.

The commission will undertake its first public activity on ATIA on September 28 when it will lead the nation in commemorating the International Right to Know Day.

Activities on the day include a press briefing on the commission’s and its stakeholders’ readiness to oversee and implement the Act, a workshop with stakeholders to validate the draft guidelines and forms and panel discussions on the right of access to information.

Vice-Chairman of the Media Committee, Godfrey Munkhondia, said the committee would lobby for increased funding of the commission during the forthcoming mid-year budget review meeting of Parliament.

“You really need resources. You need human capacity. You cannot carry out the responsibilities of the Act without resources. This is our Act and we have an interest to have it implemented so that it yields its intended results,” Munkhondia said.

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