Civil society hails promulgation of RTI Ordinance 2013 in KP

Welcoming the promulgation of "Right to Information Ordinance 2013 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa", a civil society organisation has demanded that all relevant stakeholders to be consulted before its formal approval by the provincial legislator assembly, to make it more effective and ensure transparency in the system.

"The Ordinance is much improved version compared to Right to the Information Bill approved by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet on July 10, 2013. The law can provide for the constitutional right of citizens' as provided under Article 19-A, 'that every citizen shall have the right to access to information in all matters of public importance, subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law", said Zahoor Khan, Executive Director Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA), an non-governmental organization, working on Right to Information Act.

He said that deliberations and civil society feedback should be taken on the Ordinance before it is presented to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial assembly. The Ordinance defines information as 'material which communicate meaning and which is held in record form', he added.

Zahoor explained that the rule of business under the law should further clarify on exempted information for ensuring maximum disclosure while respecting the privacy of citizens. Any exemption of information from public disclosure should be strictly subject to 'harm test', he maintained.

He further suggested that there should also be provision for proactive disclosure of information by public bodies through internet, web-portals, and other information channels. Those private entities / NGOs which are getting substantial funding from government of citizens tax money should also be brought under the RTI law.

The organization officials have appreciated the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government for taking such positive step. He affirmed that this Ordinance, if approved by KP provincial assembly with civil society recommendations is going long way to improve transparency and accountability in governance in KP.