The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace-CCJP says journalists have a crucial watchdog role to play in ensuring that duty bearers are held accountable.
The commission’s national Projects Officer, Mr. Tumtufye Simwimba, was speaking today, 05/10/23, at Thondwe Pastoral Centre in Zomba at the end of a one-day media training session aimed at orienting journalists on Access to Information (ATI) Act for effective coverage of disability-rights related stories in general, and rights for persons with albinism in particular.
The CCJP national Projects Officer said despite the fact that journalists have made an improvement in terms of accountability checks, there are still some knowledge gaps in terms of understanding the Act and that is why they organised the training. He added that journalists need to fully understand the Act and also know how they can apply it in line with their job.
“ATI is very important to the journalists and also to the citizens. The Act gives journalists teeth to hold duty bearers accountable in terms of the abuses that happen to the people, including persons with albinism,” added Mr. Simwimba.
However, journalists at the workshop expressed concerns over none compliance to some of the provisions of the Act as evidenced by failure of some Government Departments to recruit Information Officers responsible for providing relevant public information to journalists and other interested parties. At this juncture, Mr. Simwimba advised the journalists on the steps to take when a particular public duty bearer is hesitating to provide information deemed necessary to the public.
Currently, CCJP is implementing an albinism project aimed at enhancing the advancement of social economic rights of persons with albinism in Malawi.
Access to information (ATI) Act was operationalized in September, 2020, but it is still struggling to see the full light of the day.