Islamabad — Federal government ministries in Pakistan have no adequate mechanism to support Right to Information (RTI) implementation and fail to process information requests, according to a new assessment.
The implementation assessment, conducted by the Pakistan Press Foundation, is part of an international study launched by the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) in connection with the 2019 United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
SDG 16, including target 16.10.2 which deals with access to information, is up for review in the 2019 forum.
The “Road to 2030: Access to Information in the Driver’s Seat” report sheds light on the state of public access to information in Canada, Indonesia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, and Ukraine. These 10 countries are presenting Voluntary National Reviews on SDG 16 at the United Nations High Level Political Forum in New York.
The access to information implementation assessments in the report followed the FOIA Net methodology.
The Pakistan RTI assessment relied on 10 federal authorities including the Prime Minister’s Office, the National Assembly, the Election Commission, and important ministries such as Interior and Foreign Affairs. The study found that the ministries and offices showed average performance on proactive disclosures but did not have detailed information on RTI on their websites. The government bodies also did not have public information officers or equivalent mechanisms to support implementation of the RTI law. Only two authorities responded to RTI requests sent by the Pakistan Press Foundation but even in these two cases, the information supplied was incomplete.
The foundation recommended that government websites should feature a separate RTI section and publish more information proactively, ministries should appoint public information officers, and capacity-building activities should be conducted at federal government institutions to train officials to respond to information requests effectively and efficiently.
The report can be read here.