PanamaLeaks highlights need for enactment of RTI law

ISLAMABAD: In the wake of Panama Leaks, rumour mills are in full swing and have started churning out about the very future of democracy in the country. In such a scenario, it is all the more important to strengthen democratic institutions in the country through an effective Right to Information (RTI) law.

This is stated by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), a civil society organisation working on RTI and development issues in Pakistan. “Right to Information legislation is regarded as an effective anti-corruption tool and over 106 countries have enacted Right to Information laws to facilitate access to information held by public bodies,” the statement adds.

CPDI urged federal government to table in the Parliament federal right to information bill approved by the Senate Committee on information and broadcasting.

It says successive democratic governments have made tall claims about the transparent functioning of government departments but none has enacted to ensure Right to Information law so that journalists and citizens could determine the transparent functioning of government departments. The only right to information law came into being in the shape of Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 promulgated by General Pervez Musharraf to fulfil conditionality attached with Asian Development Bank loan. Both PML-N and PPP committed in the Charter of Democracy to repeal this highly ineffective law and enact a new one. Whereas PPP failed to legislate on Right to Information in its tenure from 2008 to 2013, PML-N is dilly-dallying on this issue on one pretext or the other.

“At a time when questions are being raised about mega projects carried out in the past and when mega projects are going to be set up in the country under CPEC, CPDI believes federal government should enact RTI law without further delay,” the statement says.

“Once RTI law is enacted, only then journalists and citizens will be able to get certified information of their choosing about different projects and initiatives being taken by the federal government,” the statement adds.