By Tione Andsen
Chairperson for Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, Peter Dimba has said freedom of expression and access to information has limitations as provided in the country’s constitution should be guarded against being abused.
He made the remarks Thursday during the launch of the study report on Access to Information and Freedom of Expression at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe.
Dimba pointed out that there was need to litigate the constitutionality of some of the laws that have been found to hinder the actualization of freedom of expression and access to information.
The Chairperson said a review on some of the legal frameworks which provides right to freedom of expression and access to information would be fundamental for the country.
Dimba added that some of the laws that are limiting free of expression need to be removed so that people should be able to express their feelings without fear.
“It is very interesting to see that politicians have been very hard on defamation issues of late. Basically, politicians know that once I join politics, I will be subjected to all sorts of ridicule. We need to grow thick skin in order to overcome the issues,” he said.
The Chairperson commended the consortium of Development Communication Trust (DCT), Youth and Society (YAS) and Oxfam with funding from European Union (EU) for producing a report which has highlighted some of the challenges and shortfall in our laws to promote d freedom of expression and access to information
Dimba noted that the study has found that apart from statutory provisions, there are judicial pronouncements and approaches that are inconsistent with international human rights standards on freedom of express and access to information.
Programme and Policy Manager for Oxfam Malawi, Mathias Kafunda noted that after 30 years, the country was still having laws that are hindering freedom of expression and access to information.
He said the country still have regulations and legal frameworks that should be accepted in this democratic era.
Executive Director for YAS, Charles Kajoloweka has asked the government to consider dropping all defamation cases before the courts.
He said the continuation of the cases would dent the country’s imagine of providing freedom of expression to its citizenry.