African Union Human Rights body Urges Malawi, Uganda and Nigeria to Promote Freedom of Expression and Access to Information

Picture-56 session

Picture-56 sessionThe African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has called on the Governments of Malawi, Uganda and Nigeria to implement the right to information and promote freedom of expression in respective countries. The call was contained in ACHPR’s Concluding Observations and Recommendations issued following the consideration of the countries’ respective State Reports during the Commission’s 56th and 57th Sessions. Ahead of the consideration of respective State Reports, AFIC engaged the Commission through submission of Shadow reports on the situation of freedom of expression and right to information in respective countries.

In considering Malawi’s State Report ACHPR was particularly concerned with inordinate delay in the enactment of the access to information law in Malawi and the continued existence of laws limiting freedom of expression such as criminal defamation. Following these concerns the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights recommended Government of Malawi to:

  1. Expedite the conclusion of the process of passing the Access to Information Bill into law which has been pending for 8 years, whilst ensuring that the law mirrors the international standards and best practices set out in the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa developed by the Commission;
  2. Ensure that the review of the Communications Act incorporate the regional and international standards on freedom of expression and access to information, to which Malawi has subscribed, and further adopt legislative, policy and institutional frameworks to strengthen freedom of speech and access to information in Malawi;
  3. Decriminalize defamation and other laws limiting the right to freedom of expression by reviewing relevant statute books

In considering State Reports for Uganda and Nigeria, the African Commission took note of the fact that both countries have national freedom of information laws but was concerned with problematic provisions in respective laws and lack of implementation. ACHPR was also concerned with the situation of freedom of expression and called on both Uganda and Nigeria to take practical measures to protect and promote freedom expression and report to ACHPR on measures taken. Details of AFIC’s advocacy to ACHPR on Malawi, Uganda and Nigeria during the 56th Session are contained in this report.

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