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. Right to Information: India to hand over Jinnah tapes
India will hand over copies of two speech-recordings of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to Pakistan, but says it does not have a recording of his famous August 11, 1947, address to the country’s constituent assembly. The decision comes in response to a request by the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) and after a year-long battle by Right to Information activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal to access the recordings.
2. Draft of ‘Right to Information’ law finalized
Parliamentarians from across the political divide have succeeded in drafting a very powerful federal Right to Information (RTI) law which, if passed, will change the information landscape of the country. The draft “Right to Information Act, 2014” binds the government to share information about its working, functioning of Parliament, members of Parliament, judiciary and even non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
3. CRCP presented an issue paper in regional conference on Right to Information
CRCP participated in a 2-day symposium on “Promoting People's Right to Information Achievements and Challenges” held by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) inMaldives from 27-28 August 2014. On the occasion, CRCP presented an issue paper titled “From FOI to RTI: Some Lessons and Insights”.
4. Government departments violating Right to Information Act
A segment of the Punjab bureaucracy, at the first stage of implementation of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013, thwarted the efforts of the government to provide information to citizenry to have transparency in the system.
5. Right to information
As Pakistan enters another year of independence, we often find ourselves asking the question: Are we really free? What does freedom mean in practice? Is it simply the right to exist as a ‘Pakistani’ citizen?
6. RTI law to ensure transparency, accountability in service delivery
The Speakers at an awareness seminar organized by Aitebaar in partnership with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government agreed the Right to Information law was an effective tool to ensure transparency and accountability of state service delivery mechanisms..
7. NAB officers asked to redouble efforts to recover looted money
Chairman, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) directed NAB officers to work with honesty of purpose and re-double their efforts to recover looted money.
8. Executive Board Meeting: NAB to hold two inquiries, 7 probes
Executive board of the NAB has approved the filing of a reference against former Balochistan Coastal Development Authority (BCDA) director general and others on charges of causing a loss of Rs243.59 million to the national exchequer. The board also authorized two investigations and seven inquiries at its meeting
Regional and International News on RTI
1. New Delhi: Delay in CIC appointment may lead to scrutiny of panel’s orders
The government's decision to put the appointment of a chief information commissioner (CIC) on hold could mean that all orders passed by the Central Information Commission can be quashed in court. The commission is the apex body for redressing Right to Information (RTI) complaints and has been without a head since the departure of Rajeev Mathur last week.
2. Give department-wise details of whistleblowers' complaints: CIC to CVC
The department-wise details of whistleblowers' complaints of corruption in government departments can be made public, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has held.
3. Government to deny info on inter-State water issues
The Water Resources (Inter-State Water Cell) Department has ordered that all documents and information related to inter-State water issues not be disclosed to the public even under the Right to Information Act.
4. Bollywood brought under RTI Act
In an unprecedented move that comes as a setback to Bollywood actors and artistes and brings cheer to their fans, stalkers and film journalists, the entire Indian film fraternity has been brought under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
5. 54 Indian prisoners of war in Pakistan jails: RTI
As many as 54 Indian soldiers, who were captured as Prisoners of Wars during battles of 1965 and 1971, are still believed to be in Pakistani jails, according to an RTI reply.
6. Broadcast policy conflicting with RTI Act: TIB
The newly formulated national broadcast policy is conflicting with the country's Right to Information (RTI) Act, Sultana Kamal, chairperson of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), said.
7. Bhutan Refuses to Disclose Official Travel Expenses
In Bhutan, where a right to information bill stalled earlier this year, the government is refusing to provide information about official travel expenses, writes a member of parliament, Sangay Khandu. http://www.freedominfo.org/2014/08/bhutan-refuses-disclose-official-travel-expenses/
8. Nepal: Right to Information Media's Role in Implementation
Recently, Nepal celebrated seven years of introducing the Right to Information Law (RTI). If we look at the media, and its role in making use of and implementing the law over the last seven years, it appears as if it has not been able to make much use of it.
9. Paraguayan Senate Passes House-Amended ATI Bill
The Paraguayan Senate approved the Access to Information Act, accepting amendments proposed by the House. A presidential signature is expected in the coming days, at which point Paraguay will be the 100th nation with a freedom of information law.
10. OGP Announces New Steering Committee Members
Five new civil society organization representatives and three new governments have been selected to serve on the Open Government Partnership Steering Committee.
11. Several Proposals in UK Would Change Procedures
The senior president of tribunals in the United Kingdom, Sir Jeremy Sullivan, has proposed that in some situations a judge alone could handle information rights cases.
12. Article 19 Criticizes Draft Mozambique Legislation
A draft right to information bill in Mozambique is disappointingly weak, according to a critique issued by Article 19. They said despite some positive provisions towards securing the right to information, the draft law in its current form largely fails to adequately enforce the constitutionally enshrined right to information.
13. Report on Surveillance and International Standards Launched
The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) and Global Partners Digital are launching a new publication, Travel Guide to the Digital World: Surveillance and International Standards, aimed at helping Internet users understand digital surveillance and its human rights implications.