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Govt Remains Committed to Access to Information Law

By Daniel Namwini

We are committed -Botomsni

Lilongwe, May 3, Mana: Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communication Technology, Mark Botomani said government remains committed to ensuring that the Access to Information Law is operational.

The Minister revealed the development on Sunday through a Press statement on World Press Freedom day commemoration under theme “Journalism without fear and favour” made available to Malawi News Agency (Mana).

He said Steering Committee comprising the Ministry of Information, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Malawi Human Rights Commission, has finalized the guidelines and regulations.

“The Committee suspended a stakeholders’ conference because of the Coronavirus. Once Covid-19 is over, we expect to work on final stages towards operational,” he said.

He added that His Excellency, President Prof. Peter Mutharika supports media freedom in the country and across the world because no journalist has been arrested, tried and convicted for lawfully doing their work.

Botomani pointed out that government remains the biggest advertiser in all media houses, even those that attack them every day.

“The decentralization of information function to ministries, departments and agencies means journalists are able to get information from public relations experts freely,” he said.

The Minister said government finds the theme very fitting because it was loaded with a call to journalists to exercise their duties without fearing governments, and oppositions among others.

“Journalists ought to remember that they are not supposed to fear or favour anyone. We have seen, in the past twelve months, journalists in the country, knowingly or unknowingly, fearing and favouring opposition parties and civil society.

“There has been clear lack of critical analysis of the work of opposition and civil society. Journalists ought to stand aloof, away from all influence and be guided by that which was good for all, not just the elite,” he pointed out.

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the United Nations in 1993, following a recommendation adopted at the 26th Session of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation General Conference in 1991.

A reporter for Timveni radio and TV, Amon Butao said this day serves as a reminder to government and private sectors of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom.

“Though Covid-19 pandemic has affected our activities, today was a window of reflection for media professionals on issues of press freedom and professional ethics,” he observed.

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