Raising concerns: ‘RTI bill is similar version of old Sindh Freedom of Information law’
KARACHI: The Coalition on Transparency and Access to Information (C-TAI) criticised the information ministry’s draft for the Right to Information (RTI) bill, claiming that it is a similar version of the old Sindh Freedom of Information (FOI) Law of 2006 and the RTI Act of 2013 of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
Shehri – Citizens For a Better Environment, under the banner of ‘Citizen’s Voice for Strengthening Transparency and Accountability Mechanism’, organised an advocacy consultancy session of C-TAI partners at the Regent Plaza hotel in Karachi on Friday, in which the drawbacks and weaknesses of the draft were highlighted.
Dr Raza Gardezi, the project manager of Shehri-CBE, explained that C-TAI comprises 24 different NGOs, including Aurat Foundation, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), War Against Rape, Urban Resource Centre (URC) and Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE), and was created with the objective to prepare an RTI bill and process its implementation.
“We have also forwarded this draft to Sindh government but the Sindh information ministry has drafted their own bill, which is just about to be presented,” he said. “We need an effective RTI bill and its immediate implementation as it is the dire need of our state.”
‘Right to Information bill in Sindh is a ray of hope’
He said that we have also included NGOs in this bill as they take funds from the government, which is eventually from the public tax money. This makes them accountable to the people about how they are spending the money, he added.
“By adding NGOs, we have included ourselves as accountable to the people as well,” he said.
Gardezi said that we need to adopt a strategy to promote the final C-TAI draft as representatives of the civil society and for this we need to interact actively with the parliamentarians, especially the law ministry and the information minister, Nisar Khuhro.
Abdul Rahim Moosvi, the programmes and project manager of CPNE, said that there is no harm in adopting the bill, which is similar to those of Punjab and K-P.
“But there were some flaws in the bill, which we have covered in the one C-TAI has drafted,” he said.
Zahid Farooq, the programme director of URC, added that we are far behind different countries in such developments. “What’s important is to create awareness among the people about this law and how it is important for them,” he said.
In the other part of the session, representatives talked about the weaknesses of the current draft of the information ministry and claimed that their bill is more accurate and can easily be implemented.
Alternatives: Charter of demands
A charter of demands was also presented by the C-TAI partners, which states that:
The Government of Sindh repeal the Sindh FOI Act of 2006 for having failed to deliver the constitutional right of access to information
Reject the Ministry of Information’s draft of the Sindh Right to Information bill, 2015
Adopt and enact the C-TAI draft of the Sindh Right to Information bill, 2015
Start a consultative process with the civil society and hold public hearings to elicit the opinion of the citizens on the C-TAI-drafted Sindh RTI bill