Freedom act: Shehri says ‘know your rights’

Published: July 11, 2012
Civil advocacy group holds workshop to educate citizens on FoI ordinance.

Civil advocacy group holds workshop to educate citizens on FoI ordinance.

KARACHI: In its drive to inform the citizens about their rights to information, a non-governmental organisation, Shehri – Citizens for a Better Environment (Shehri-CBE), held a workshop on “Freedom of Information Ordinance as a Tool for Ensuring Good Governance” on Tuesday.

Welcoming the participants, Shehri-CBE member Farhan Anwar introduced the aims and objectives of the workshop. He highlighted the civil advocacy group’s active role in trying to facilitate good governance through transparency and a pro-active role of the citizenry to seek their fundamental rights.

A volunteer, Naeem Sadiq, explained in detail the Freedom of Information (FoI) ordinance introduced in the country in 2002. He also discussed the law’s finer points, its status in the country, its key features, guidelines and finally a step-by-step process through which citizens could extract information.

Article 19-A of the constitution states that every citizen has the “right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law”.

Sadiq said that when asked a question, the governmental section concerned was bound to provide the information within 21 days.

Explaining the key features of the law, he said that every public body should designate an official not below Grade-19 whose exclusive duty should be to provide citizens with access to information. In case of absence of such a post, it would be the responsibility of the department head to provide the required information.

In the concluding remarks, Sameer Hamid Dodhy highlighted the active role Shehri-CBE has played in trying to facilitate good governance by advocating transparency in government functions.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2012.

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