Article 19 Criticizes Draft Mozambique Legislation

21 August 2014

A draft right to information bill in Mozambique is disappointingly weak, according to a critique by Article 19 issued Aug. 15.

The London-based free expression group said:

Despite some positive provisions towards securing the right to information, the draft law in its current form largely fails to adequately enforce the constitutionally enshrined right to information.

Article 19 said the majority of the proposed provisions “do not adequately provide for the principles of access to information that the draft law is trying to protect. In its current form, the draft law will do little to give persons enforceable rights to information as provided for under the Constitution of Mozambique.”

Numerous objections are listed. Among other things, the draft:

– “Wrongly seeks to include protection of information about a person’s public life.”

– Would allow “national unity” and “social cohesion” as justifications to withhold information.

– Grants the right to information to citizens only.

– “The requirement of proper identification will stifle the enjoyment of this right”

–  The draft law does not clarify the authority for determination on what information is classified for restriction, conditional provision or limitation.”

–  The state secret exemption is “overly broad.”

–  The provision on trade secrets “would prevent disclosure of information where a private company is operating a public contract or is engaged in illegal behaviour.”

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