Project/Partner : FNF
Balochistan Freedom of Information Act 2005 belongs to the first generation of right to information laws in Pakistan as Balochistan opted, along with Sindh, to replicate Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 and Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013 belong to 2nd generation of right to information laws as the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab did not adopt Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002. Balochistan Freedom of Information Act 2005 and other 1st generation right to information laws are inadequate as these laws do not meet international standards of effective right to information legislation. ‘Information’ is not defined, the list of exempted information is vague, there is no harm test, and the process of access to information held by public bodies is neither cost-effective nor easy. More importantly, instead of establishing independent and autonomous commissions, the role of appellate body has been entrusted to Ombudsman. That is why empirical data collected over the years by using these 1st generation laws also supports assertion of the right to information activists in the country that these are highly ineffective laws. On the other hand, KPK and Punjab right to information laws meet standards of right to information legislation. ‘Information’ is clearly defined, list of exempted information clear and precise, process of submitting information requests is both easy and cost-effective and independent and autonomous commissions have been established with powers to get these laws implemented. As a result, civil society groups, citizens and journalists are using 2nd generation right to information laws in greater frequency than 1st generation right to information laws.
The federal government is in the process of repealing Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 and its replicas in Sindh and Balochistan also need to be repealed if the constitutional right of citizens guaranteed through Article 19-A is to be promoted and protected. It is in this context that Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, (CPDI) is holding conference on ‘Right to Information and need for new legislation in Balochistan’’.