While Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh have enacted effective right to information laws, federal Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 and Balochistan Freedom of Information Act 2005 are the most ineffective right to information laws in the country, according to Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, (CPDI).
Both Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 and its replica in Balochistan in the shape of Balochistan Freedom of Information Act 2005 are the weakest laws in Pakistan and score only 30 points out of a total of 140 points on CPDI’s Score Sheet of Right to Information Laws of Pakistan.
The most robust and progressive law in Pakistan is the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013 which scores 139 points.Sindh Transparency and Right to Information Act 2016 scores 130 points whereas Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 scores 129 points.
CPDI’s Score Sheet of Right to Information Laws of Pakistan evaluates right to information laws of the country on the yardstick of standards of effective right to information legislation such as maximum disclosure, minimal exemptions, obligation for proactive disclosure, process to facilitate access to information, minimum cost for the requested information, and disclosure taking precedence over exemption.
Right to information is linked with all other basic rights. How can citizens of Pakistan exercise their basic rights such as right to education and healthcare if they do not have right to information held by public bodies.
PMLN committed in Charter of Democracy signed 11 years ago in 2006 that Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 would be repealed and new effective right to information law will be enacted at the federal level. Senate Special Committee constituted to reconcile federal government draft and Right to Information Bill approved by Senate Committee on Information and Broadcasting finalised its recommendations in March last month. However, federal government failed to present the draft right to information bill in the meeting of the federal cabinet held on April 12 for its approval. Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, (CPDI) urges federal government to prioritise legislation on right to information.
published in The Nation
14 April 2017