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. Proposals about right to information body hailed
The Consumer Rights Commission of Pakistan (CRCP) has welcomed the proposals of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting regarding establishment of an independent and autonomous information commission at the federal level and providing legal protection to whistleblowers.
2. Punjab’s Right to Information law
Under Article-19-A of Constitution of Pakistan, Right to Information (RTI) is a constitutional right available to all citizens. Accordingly, Punjab Assembly enacted a landmark legislation “The Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2013”on December 16, 2013 to ensure RTI across the Province.
3. Right to know: Joint forum of South Asian nations proposed
Delegates of a regional conference on investigative journalism and citizens’ right to information (RTI) agreed to establish a “South Asia Right to Information Forum” to raise a voice for peoples’ right to know. The conference was organized by Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP) in Islamabad to mark World Press Freedom Day.
4. Government forms task force to review media laws
A nine-member “Media Laws Review Task Force” has been established by the government to conduct a comprehensive review of all the existing media laws, rules and regulations at the federal, provincial and local levels.
5. Regional Conference on “Investigative Reporting and Citizens Right to Information"
RTI is the constitutional right of every citizen of the country, now is the time to say goodbye to overpowering culture of secrecy in Pakistan. This was said by the speakers of the conference jointly organized by Centre for Peace and Development Initiative (CPDI) and Press Council of Pakistan (PCP).
6. Government urged to take steps for safety of journalists
Speakers at a seminar titled ‘Right to Information (RTI) Law and Security and Safety of Journalists’ said that there is need for urgent actions by the state, media and civil society to ensure an enabling environment including laws, processes and practices for effective reforms and effective implementation of the rights.
7. World Press Freedom Day: G-B journalists demand RTI law, security
Speaking at a media workshop, Information Minister Sadia Danish hinted at initiating the process of forming a Right to Information law in the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) legislative assembly.
8. Access to information: BNU to build awareness and capacity regarding RTI
In an attempt to support the implementation of Punjab Transparency and RTI Act 2013, the Beaconhouse National University (BNU) is building capacity to generate greater awareness through a pilot project in selected districts of Punjab.
9. Making Karachi’s governance more transparent
Recently, Shehri conducted a study on the ‘Proactive Disclosure of Information’ by the city district government, Karachi. The research found that the city government has a website on which a lot of information is available. However, there are glaring gaps too.
10. Anti-corruption culture: ‘NAB, judiciary took action, but more is needed’
In its recent report, Transparency International lauded Pakistan’s judiciary as well as the anti-graft body National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for taking some action against corruption. However, it is not enough to develop a system of accountability in the country.
Regional and International News on RTI
1. Internews Proposes Forum on FOE/RTI for Southeast Asia
Internews Europe has recommended the creation of a regional forum and network for Southeast Asian organizations working across the range of freedom of expression (FOE) and right to information issues. Funding for activists to work on these issues has diminished, according to the report.
2. Nine years on, RTI yet to get fully functional in state: RTI Manch Rajasthan report
After nine years of its introduction, Right to Information Act 2005 is yet to see its proper implementation in the state, says a detailed report on status of RTI. The report found irregularities in many departments and government offices.
3. Advocates Begin RTI Petition Campaign in Sri Lanka
A petition calling on the government to pass a right to information law is being circulated in Sri Lanka, where efforts to pass a bill have been frustrated in recent years.