Malawi Draft Law Rated Highly by Rating System

10 February 2016

If the president allows it to pass, the draft right to information law in Malawi would be the fifteenth best in the world, according to an analysis by the Centre for Law and Democracy.

“The Analysis also reveals that there are important areas where the Bill should be improved before it is passed,” a CLD press release states. The evaluation is based on a widely recognized  system used to evaluate the legal framework of FOI laws.

Malawi’s President, Peter Mutharika, has called for the draft bill to be significantly weakened, demanding that it apply only to information generated after it is adopted. (See previous FreedomInfo.org report.)

“Restricting the right to information to future documents would dramatically undermine the impact of the law,” said CLD’s Senior Legal Officer, Michael Karanicolas. “Rather than weakening the Bill, the priority for the government should now be on getting it passed into law.”

The analysis says the bill has a number of positive features, including a relatively broad scope, strong promotional measures and a good public interest override.

Some of CLD’s key recommendations include:

• Sanctions for misuse of information that has been disclosed should be removed.
• The Bill should overrule Malawi’s Official Secrets Act to the extent of any conflict.
• Exceptions for personal privacy and Cabinet records should be significantly narrowed in scope.
• Malawi should commit to dedicating additional resources for the oversight body.
• The law should make it clear that it applies to the office of the President.

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