The present news alert provides a quick access to the news, studies, frequently asked questions and reports on the state of Right to Information (RTI) in Pakistan with a view to improve Governance by promoting transparency and accountability in various government structures and departments. This will also assist to keep the CSOs, concerned citizens and government departments updated with the latest initiatives and developments in the areas of RTI in Pakistan.
It is circulated monthly, containing contributions from a range of RTI topics to draw the reader's attention to the issues and developments on RTI.
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“When information which properly belongs to the public is systematically withheld by those in power, the people soon become ignorant of their own affairs, distrustful of those who manage them, and - eventually - incapable of determining their own destinies.” Pres. Richard Nixon, 1972
National News on RTI, Transparency and Accountability
1. President moved against himself
A Karachi-based Right to Information (RTI) activist has filed an appeal to the President of Pakistan against the Presidency for denying information sought under a presidential ordinance about the expenses on Hajj of President and his relatives.
2. Shahbaz using his private cars for official duty, reveals Punjab government
Chief Minister Punjab has answered the first RTI request leaving the requester surprised by replying that he uses his private vehicle for official business, pays fuel charges from his pocket and there is no protocol vehicle deputed for him.
3. Rules not drafted: Punjab right to information act still in stillborn state
The Punjab government has not yet established a Punjab Information Commission or Press Information Officers in any public body, even as these are mandatory under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013.
4. RTI Laws at Federal Level
At international level, RTI is regarded as a fundamental right of every citizen. RTI laws not only open doors of information to the public at large but also empower citizens to seek any information and record held by the public bodies.
5. In limbo: RTI information commission incomplete as deadline looms
The information commission under the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information (RTI) Act is yet to be established, rendering the act itself dysfunctional till then.
6. Workshop on 'Right to Information' organized
Speakers at the workshop on "Right to Information - RTI" urged the government to further strengthen the Freedom of Information (FOI) laws as per the guidelines of UN. The workshop was organized by Shehri-Citizen for a Better Environment.
7. Government and public demand more transparency in Sindh
Participants of a consultation organized by Development, Environment, Legal Aid, Technical Support and Advocacy Association (DELTA) at Karachi agreed that the Sindh Freedom of Information Act, 2006 needs immediate amendments.
8. Rights group files request seeking disclosure on internet filtering equipment
With a number of websites and internet based services blocked in recent months, internet freedom and transparency group Bolo Bhi has filed a RTI request seeking information about surveillance and web filtering equipment reportedly acquired by the Government of Pakistan.
9. NAB issues new guidelines to improve investigations, prosecutions
Admitting the existing flaws in the process of investigation and prosecution, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has issued new policy guidelines to ensure effective investigation and successful prosecution.
Regional and International News on RTI
1. Indian Parliament passes bill to protect whistleblowers
A bill to provide for setting up a regular mechanism to encourage persons to disclose information on corruption or willful misuse of power by public servants, including ministers, was passed by Parliament.
2. India Post extends e-postal order facility for RTI pleas to citizens living in India
India Post has launched the electronic Indian Postal Order (e-IPO) facility, which can be used for paying online fees for filing applications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, for Indian citizens living in India.
3. Indian Government promotes RTI Act through radio, cinema halls
A campaign has been launched by the government to promote Right to Information (RTI) Act through short informative programmes on radio and cinema halls. As many as 105 radios have been engaged to air these short films.
4. Exercising right to information in Bangladesh
Even after a little more than four years since the eagerly awaited RTI Act came into being, its implementation has remained sluggish.
5. China Issues Regulations Implementing Secrecy Law
Long-awaited implementing regulations under China’s State Secrecy Law have been published. The Chinese media characterized them as a measure to boost government transparency, but critics questioned them.
6. RTI Law Passes in Bhutan; 100th International Law
On February 5, 2014, the National Assembly of Bhutan passed a right to information bill, putting Bhutan on the path to becoming the 100th nation in the world with an RTI law.
7. Effort Continues to Pass RTI Legislation in Afghanistan
Draft access to information legislation for Afghanistan has yet to make it from the Cabinet of Ministers to the Parliament, so campaigners are lobbying members of parliament.
8. Indonesia: Right to Information Training Manual Unveiled
The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) and the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) released a Training Manual for Public Bodies on Implementing Law 14 of 2008 Regarding Openness in Public Bodies.
9. Sierra Leone’s RTI law is tied as 5th strongest in the world
Sierra Leone’s new RTI law is tied as 5th strongest in the world, according to an analysis by the Centre for Law and Democracy.