Workshop on Freedom Of Information ordinance organised
KARACHI: Shehri-Citizens for Better Environment (CBE) organized a workshop on ‘Freedom Of Information (FOI) Ordinance As A Tool For Ensuring Good Governance’ at the Institution of Engineers, Pakistan here on recently.
Member, Shehri-CBE, Farhan Anwar welcomed the participants and introduced the aims and objectives of the workshop. He highlighted the active role Shehri-CBE 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.
Naeem Sadiq, a volunteer for Shehri speaking to participants who mostly belonged to Karachi Water & Sewerage Board, explained the FOI ordinance introduced in 2002 and discussed its finer points, its status in the country, its key features, guidelines and finally a step-by-step process through which citizens could apply for information.
Sadiq 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.
Sadiq said that according to Article 19A of the constitution, every citizen had the “right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law.” He said that when asked a query, the governmental section concerned was bound to provide the information within 21 days.
Explaining the key features of the law, Sadiq said that every public body should designate an official not below of grade-19 whose duty should be exclusively to provide citizens with easy access to information.
In case of absence of such a position, it would be the responsibility of the head of the department to provide the required information. There should also be an application form on government website to record details of the query, he said.
He also informed about the experience of Shehri-CBE in invoking the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act in terms of applications filed and results achieved.
Member Shehri-CBE, Sameer Hamid Dodhy, in his concluding remarks, highlighted the active role Shehri-CBE 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. He also thanked the participants for their active participation
The participants appreciated Shehri-CBE’s efforts and assured of their supportive role in better implementation of the FOI Act.