ISLAMABAD: Voicing its concern over the Right of Access to Information (RAI) Bill 2017 passed by the National Assembly on Monday, Centre for Peace & Development Initiatives (CPDI) has said that it does not ensure free flow of information.
“The RAI Bill 2017 is neither effective like the provincial right to information (RTI) laws nor in line with the globally accepted principles of RTI legislation. The two houses passed it without taking input from the civil society organisations and RTI experts,” CPDI Executive Director Amir Ejaz said in a statement here on Thursday.
Though, he maintained that the RAI Bill 2017 had some marked improvements over the Freedom of Information (FOI) Ordinance 2002, it still fell short of meeting key standards of effective RTI legislation.
“For example, instead of one narrowly drawn list of exempted information, the RAI Bill 2017 contained three separate lists: records that can be shared; records that cannot be shared; and records that can be shared but certain types of information, if contained in these records, will not be shared,” he argued.
Ejaz said the Pakistan Commission on Access to Information proposed in the RAI Bill 2017 should have been empowered to order public bodies to disclose the information if the disclosure was in public interest and outweighed the likely harm.
“How can minister-in-charge of the federal government name a document as classified, while this right should have been with the proposed commission?” Ejaz remarked.—PR