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Finally, ATI Bill in Parley

By Nation Reporter

AFTER many protracted years of broken promises by successive governments, the new dawn administration has finally delivered one of its campaign promises as it yesterday tabled the Access to Information (ATI) bill before Parliament.

Minister of Information and Media Cornelius Mweetwa presented the ATI on the floor of the House yesterday.

Mr Mweetwa said the objectives of the ATI bill number 24 of 2023 are to designate the Human Rights Commission (HRC) as an oversight institution on matters relating to access to information; provide for the right to access information and its limitations and provide for procedures for processing requests for information.

“Other objects include giving effect to the right to access information as guaranteed in the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights; and provide for matters connected with, or incidental to, the foregoing,” Mr Mweetwa said.

The bill which was read in the House for the first time has since been referred to the Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technologies.

Speaker of the National Assembly Nelly Mutti directed the committee to submit its report on the Bill on December 7, 2023.

During its sittings, the committee will receive submissions from interested groups as well as members of the public.

To access information is both a human right and a social need. It is a necessity particularly in a democracy where every citizen has a role to play in the governance of the country.

ATI promotes transparency and accountability, and it helps in the fight against corruption and generally leads to open governments and to effective democratic participation by the public.

Once enacted, the Government will have an obligation to make access to information possible as a duty-bearer, while the public is entitled to demand that their right is fulfilled.


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