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MHRC speaks on , Access to Information Act

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Overseer of the newly assented to Act, Access to Information (ATI), Malawi Human Rights Commission has highlighted its readiness for the implementation of the Act.

Chairperson of the Commission, Justin Dzonzi, said the commission is to embark on meetings with relevant stakeholders on how they will be operating.

Among the stakeholders the commission intends to meet the Ministry of Information to share notes on the implementation of the law.

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Minister of Justice, Samuel Tembenu, clarified on Sunday that implementation of the law lies in the hands of MHRC.

“We are ready in as far as the commission is there, it is in existence, it is operational, it has commissioners in place we are ready. We anticipate that since there are a number of players, then we have to have time to sit and discuss. We have to create necessary structures for the implementation of the law,” Dzonzi said.

Dzonzi, however, declined to state how much the commission would require for the implementation and overseeing of the law.

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“We are yet to come up with a budget. We are hoping that this will be included in our budget proposals of the 2017/2018 fiscal year,” he said.

Dzonzi said the commission expects to formulate a sub-commission or a stand-alone directorate to oversee the Act that will be within MHCR.

“We do anticipate that there will be needful additional staff members, perhaps a creation of a sub-level that will just be concentrating on the Access to Information. We are doing this in phases; we are currently in the first phase where we are defining our role as a commission, stakeholders we are working with and what will be required. The other phase will be to draft a budget followed by the actual implementation of the Act,” he said.

Among other duties, MHRC shall be preparing and submitting to Parliament annual reports which shall include details of all activities undertaken by the commission.

The commission has powers to summon any person who without sufficient cause, refuses to answer to the best of that person’s knowledge any question lawfully put to him or her.

The approval of the ATI law means Malawi joins 18 other countries in Africa who have similar Act in their countries.

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