Shehri-CBE holds training workshop on Freedom of Information Ordinance
KARACHI: Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment (Shehri-CBE) recently initiated a project entitled ‘Promotion of Article 19-A of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan for Transparent Governance and Citizen Empowerment.’ The project was funded by the Foundation Open Society Institute – Pakistan to inform the civil society and government stakeholders on what Freedom of Information (FoI) is, its power, how it can be used, what are its benefits and where the present legislation could be strengthened.
A critically important component of the project was the capacity building of relevant government organisations, service providers on the topic of FoI in general and the FoI Ordinance in particular so that they are better equipped to respond appropriately to citizen’s demand for information. In this regard, a ‘Training Programme’ was held where representatives of government agencies belonging to local and provincial governments such as the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, Planning & Development Department, Government of Sindh, participated.
Member Shehri-CBE Farhan Anwar welcomed the participants and introduced the project – its aims and objectives. He highlighted the active role Shehri-CBE has played in trying to facilitate good governance by advocating transparency in government functions and an informed and pro-active role of the citizenry in seeking protection of their fundamental rights as enshrined in the Constitution and legislations of all state institutions.
Trainer Naeem Sadiq briefed the participants on the format and contents of the training program. He informed about the FoI legislations that comprise laws guaranteeing access to data held by the state and their status at the national and provincial levels. He explained about the applicability of the Ordinance in terms of which type of state institutions can be asked to share data and what type of information can be accessed and what type of information and record is exempt from disclosure.
Sadiq then explained in detail the ‘process’ of ‘invoking’ the FoI Ordinance – guidelines for making an FoI Application and the ‘five’ steps for obtaining the information and records. He discussed separately the ‘process’ – one, till the filing of the application and two, as to what happens after the application is filed according to the stipulations laid down in the Ordinance.
His presentation was followed by an extremely interactive discussion where the participants engaged with the Trainer in better understanding their roles and functions with reference to their responsibilities as per the FoI Ordinance. On this occasion, a comprehensive ‘Toolkit’ – Your Right to Know – documenting the process and related details of the FOI Ordinance, prepared by Shehri-CBE was distributed among the participants. The participants appreciated Shehri-CBE’s efforts and assured of their supportive role in better implementation of the FoI Ordinance. The Lead Trainer thanked the participants for their active participation. Pr