Govt urged to empower information commission

ISLAMABAD: The Coalition on Right to Information (CRTI) on Thursday said that government circles lacked understanding about the purpose of ‘right to information legislation’.

In response to a statement by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the CRTI, a consortium of 48 civil society organisations working to protect and promote citizens’ right to information, observed: “It seems there is relative lack of understanding about the purpose of right to information legislation in government circles as demonstrated by the interior minister on Sunday when he said that no one will be allowed to hide behind Right to Information Act.”

The interior minister during his news conference last week on the issue of alleged security leaks in a news story published in Dawn had said: “It is a national security issue and no one should hide behind the right to protect the source.” He said that “now the reporter is the only best source”.

The CRTI urged the government to empower the proposed Pakistan Information Commission with regard to ensuring disclosure of information in matters of public interest and protecting sensitive information. It believed that effective right to information laws not only facilitated easy and cost-effective access to information held by public bodies but also protected privileged and sensitive information from disclosure.

“That is why independent and autonomous information commissions are established under right to information laws to ensure that information likely to cause damage to national security, privacy of individuals, economic interests and other such matters is protected from disclosure,” the CRTI statement said.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2016

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