Journalist, lawyer get RTI Champion Award 2016 Geo’s Azaz Syed honoured
ISLAMABAD: The Coalition of Right to Information (CRTI) Monday conferred RTI Champion Award on Geo TV correspondent Azaz Syed in recognition of his use of RTI laws at the federal and provincial levels for obtaining information.
The CRTI in partnership with the Center for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) honors two individuals each year who exercise their right to know by using the existing laws for acquiring information.
They have also set up a help center that facilitates journalists and ordinary citizens in filing the information requests.
One award goes to a journalist having filed the maximum number of RTI requests and another to a non-journalist. Azaz was declared this year’s winner in the journalist category and Sarmad Ali received this honor in the citizen’s category.
Azaz is the first-ever TV journalist recognized for his contribution in terms of practice and promotion of the RTI law through its aggressive use for digging out stories based on official documents.
He filed more than 200 requests to different public bodies of the federal government and four provinces that became source of his stories about the presidency, foreign ministry and prison department.
Sarmad, a lawyer by profession, submitted a num-ber of RTI requests to different educational institutions.
His RTI application to Punjab University seeking details about the visiting faculty of the university’s law college went on to settle the issue of providing copy of the CNIC from the applicant.
As the university sought his CNIC copy, he went in appeal to Punjab Information Commission that gave judgment in his favour. The decision was upheld by the Lahore High Court when challenged by the university.
Federal Minister for Information Senator Pervaiz Rashid presided the award ceremony held at the National Press Club. Senator Farhatullah Babar, relentless advocate of transparency who coauthored RTI draft law awaiting the cabinet approval, joined as a distinguished guest.
The CPDI, as a partner of CRTI, inaugurated CRTI RTI Champions Awards in 2014 to promote the use of right to information laws in the country. This year’s award committee was comprised of Sayed Liaquat Banori of the Society for Human Rights and Prisoners Aid, (SHARP), Nadeem Iqbal of the Network for Consumer Protection in Pakistan (NCPP), Tauqeer Mustafa of the Punjab Lok Sujag (PLS), Muhammad Anwar of the Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA) and Natalia Tariq of the Open Society Foundation Pakistan (OSFP). It was unanimously decided to give award to Azaz Sayed in the journalist category and Sarmad Ali in the citizen category.