24 October 2012

Maldives could pass an access to information law by the end of the year

The Maldives could pass an access to information law by the end of the year according to Speaker of Parliament, Abdulla Shahid.

The access to information law was introduced to parliament in November 2009 and since then has been stuck in the Social Affairs Committee.

Speaking at a symposium hosted by Transparency Maldives, Shahid reportedly stated that the chair of the Social Affairs Committee had assured him that he was ‘very hopeful' the bill would be adopted before the end of the year.

A previous attempt to pass an access to information law in 2007 failed. However, prospects for passage now seem more positive, with Shahid recognising the importance of the right to the achievement of democracy; reportedly stating that "I strongly believe access to information must be an indispensible part of any true democracy".

Shahid also appears to recognise the essential role of access to information in creating active citizenry and the realisation of other human rights, reportedly stating "the people should be informed of policies which would facilitate the path to progress".

Currently the right to information in the Maldives is regulated by a presidential decree, which only covers the ministries under the executive. A more comprehensive law is therefore vital to the full realisation of the right in the country.