Earlier this week, the Coalition on Right to Information (CRTI) pushed back strongly against bureaucratic efforts to strip the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) access to information regime of its powers.
The provincial government had passed the KP Right to Information (RTI) Act in 2013, which allowed citizens to seek public records from government departments. This law was meant to bring more transparency in government affairs and allow the public to hold government authorities accountable.
On Tuesday, however, the government put a draft bill on the provincial assembly’s agenda to bring amendments to the 2013 law.
The amendments would give government officials more space to deny information requests based on the nature of the documents requested — records with file notings and personal views would be exempt — and force citizens to disclose reasons for requesting information – these reasons will then be judged by the government against definitions of ‘public importance’ and ‘malafide’.
The civil society organisations working on effective implementation of access to information laws in Pakistan, led by CRTI, vehemently opposed the KP government’s move. The furore generated by the regressive amendments helped to prevent the information minister from introducing the bill to the assembly and reports suggest the amendments will be reviewed before further action.
Here’s some of the media coverage of the CRTI’s official statement on the matter: