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. Two Pakistani Provinces Implementing New Laws
Two Pakistani provinces i.e. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab have taken somewhat delayed steps to implement recently passed Right to Information (RTI) laws. Both provinces completed the appointment of their information commissioners. KP Information Commission has also started training of Public Information Officers.
2. Delays and excuses: Months on, no progress on RTI
The government has established three-member Punjab Information Commission; however, no public information officers have been notified even after the expiry of deadline. The law made it mandatory for the government to appoint them within 60 days of the commencement of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2013.
3. Write to know
Under Right to Information laws, people are free to ask important questions about government functioning to unearth fraud, corruption and poor governance.
4. PPF files 60 RTI requests to get details of journalists’ murder cases
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) has filed 60 RTI requests to know about the progress and status of the cases of journalists murdered across the country in the line of duty during 2002-2013.
5. CCP to reward whistleblowers
The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) has issued Competition (Reward Payment to Informant) Regulations, 2014, in which CCP has bound itself to keep the confidentiality of whistleblowers to the extent that is consistent with its obligations under the Competition Act, 2010.
6. Government, civil society and media urged to join hands against corruption
Speakers at a consultative meeting in Peshawar organized by the Development, Environment, Legal Aid, and Technical Support and Advocacy Association (DELTA) said the government, civil society and media should join hands to eradicate corruption and ensure access to information to all for reforming the system.
7. World Consumer Rights Day 2014
As consumers, we are a part of every transaction that takes place in Pakistan. We are at the heart of many of the opportunities and challenges faced by the Nation. Yet, while our money speaks, our voice is often not heard. This was stated by Mr. Waseem Hashmi of Consumer Rights Commission of Pakistan (CRCP) in a Roundtable Discussion to mark the World Consumer Rights Day 2014.
8. The new NGO’s law is lax on accountability
A draft law being introduced to regulate foreign funding of NGOs appears to have been designed to evade governmental accountability instead of ensuring transparency as it bars funding for activities related to research, governance reforms, accountability and human rights.
9. Draft Cybercrime Law Threatens Digital Development
The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) commented that new cybercrime law, the draft Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2014 threatened to undermine the development of the Internet in Pakistan.
10. NAB monitoring saves Rs5.465 billion
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is contemplating a plan to set up monitoring and surveillance units in the foreseeable future in those departments where complaints of irregularities, corruption and non-transparent working have become a permanent feature, resulting in the savings of Rs5.465 billion to the national exchequer.
Regional and International News on RTI
1. India: RTI loses bite as pending appeals choke system
According to Hindustan Times India’s transparency Act is slowly becoming ineffective due to pending appeals, non-action on erring information officers and attacks on RTI activists.
2. Philippines: Aquino Administration Backs FOI Bill, Improving Odds
Aquino administration has endorsed a freedom of information bill, possibly improving the changes for House action. A House committee technical working group has been trying to produce a consolidated bill, using last year’s bill as a template.
3. World Bank Creating Tool to Gauge FOI Implementation
The World Bank is developing and testing a set of indicators to evaluate the implementation of right to know laws. Expected out in June, the 120-item evaluative tool will cover topics such as enforcement and management. The Bank is testing the tool using information gathered about four countries i.e. United States, Jordan, Thailand and South Africa.
4. Study Probes Commitments on FOI by OGP Members
About half of the countries in the Open Government Partnership made commitment to pass a freedom of information law or to improve an existing one, according to a new study authored by Mexico’s Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection (IFAI).
5. UK Court Finds Common Law Right to Information
A recent ruling by the Supreme Court suggests that journalists seeking documents from a public authority have a common law right to information which runs separately from the Freedom of Information Act.