Right to info, whistleblower protection laws emphasized
LAHORE – Transparency International Pakistan has highlighted the need of Right to Information and Whistleblower Protection Laws for the citizens of Pakistan to hold their leaders and officials accountable.
“Public institutions must prioritise anti-corruption efforts to rebuilt public trust. There should be an efficient monitoring and integrity mechanisms across all sectors so that the gap between law and practice be minimised,” these views were expressed by Chairman Sohail Muzzaffar while addressing seminar held under the aegis of Transparency International Pakistan in collaboration with National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The seminar was organised with the topic of ‘Right to Information and Whistleblower Protection Laws’.
TI Pakistan Executive Director Saad Rashid gave a brief summary of the National Integrity System Research, which took almost 2 years to complete. He said that the NIS studied the laws and practice of thirteen pillars of the state from the government, public and non-governmental institutions. To improve governance, the government needed to strengthen its RTI and Whistleblower Protection Laws, the NIS concluded.
Osman A Ansari from Bolo bhi organisation said that the freedom of information mechanism in place was a long and arduous process and was more a deterrent rather than a right as experienced in past years. “What it means is a complete overhaul leading towards simplification,” he added.
Arsalan Ali from Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) informed the audience regarding their work that is related to strengthening media in Pakistan. He highlighted the fact that PPF initiated 65 FOI cases and received only 7 replies. Hence, there was a need for better enforcement of this law, he added.
PPF’s work is also related to ending impunity on crimes against journalists.
Syed Adil Gilani, Advisor TI Pakistan, talked about Whistle blower Protection. Briefly talking on what the whistle blower protection law should comprise of, he said that only KPK had a mention about Whistle blower protection whereas the federal and other provincial governments still needed to promulgate the law. He stressed on the need for the law for curbing corruption in the country.
CPDI Executive Director Amer Ejaz suggested that the federal and Sindh Right to Information law should be repealed immediately and new act that is powerful and progressive should be enacted. “This should be on the basis of the acts present in Punjab and KPK,” he suggested.
TI Pakistan Programme Coordinator Maryam Javaid stressed that the Right to Public Services Act 2014 was also a very important piece of legislation. “It works towards ensuring timely delivery of services to the general public. Access to these services is every citizen’s basic right,” she said.
NAB Sindh DG Col (r) Naeem Siraj gave a summary of NAB’s awareness and prevention program. He said that his department reached out to school children, youth and the general public, where they stressed on subjects such as ethics, morality.