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Mozambique: Access to information bill approved by Parliamentary Assembly

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The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) is pleased to learn of the passing of Mozambique's access to information (ATI) law at its first reading before parliament on 21 August 2014.

Although access to information is a constitutionally protected right in Mozambique, the country has yet to pass a law specifically guaranteeing the right, which would allow its citizens to have greater access to information.

The bill, which has remained on the policy agenda since 2005, has been before parliament on three previous occasions. On each occasion, court records indicate the deliberations were adjourned to a later date.

The current bill, which was presented to and passed by parliament, was agreed upon at a media seminar in Maputo in 2005. It seeks to create greater transparency and generate public participation in Mozambique, although it has also been the subject of some criticism with respect to whether it adequately enforces the right in all its dimensions.

If passed, Mozambique will become the fourth country in southern Africa to adopt an ATI law, joining a number of countries on the continent to become the fifteenth country to specifically pass a law guaranteeing the right of access to information.

MISA Regional Director, Zoe Titus said, “This marks a significant development for Southern Africa, because no government in the region has passed an ATI law since 2006 and the region is often criticised for housing some of the most secretive governments in the world.”

MISA, as the leading advocacy organization for media freedom and access to information in southern Africa and the secretariat for the African Platform on Access to information (APAI), hopes that the first reading of the bill is a promising indication of the government's commitment to passing an ATI law.

“We believe the passing of this law would ensure greater accountability, transparency and the enjoyment of socio-economic rights for the citizens of Mozambique,” said Ms Titus.

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