Pakistan Province Exempts Assembly From RTI Act

25 June 2015

The legislature in the Pakistan’s province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly has exempted itself from the purview of K-P RTI Act of 2013, according to media reports.

The K-P Assembly also reduced the size of the Information Commission to two from three. Another amendment provides a right to appeal commission decisions to district court.

As described by journalist Umar Cheema in The News:

The KP Assembly in a hush-hush manner late Tuesday amended the RTI law to exempt itself from accountability, depriving citizens of their right to question the public representatives and their performance in the assembly headed by the speaker belonging to the PTI, the champion of reforms.

The KP was the first to introduce a robust RTI law and has also taken a lead in defacing it, which is going to haunt the PTI in the years to come.

Cheema went on to contrast the K-P law with the RTI law in Punjab.

The Assembly Secretariat told The Express Tribune the legislature was exempted from the RTI to avoid a conflict with the Privileges Act 1975, a separate legislation for lawmakers

Sindh Law Criticized

A recent article by Saima Adeel details weaknesses in the freedom of information act in the province of Sindh.

Adeel, a social scientist associated with SHEHRI-CBE, a nongovernmental organization, listed a variety of problems with the law, calling it “next to useless since it does not provide any clear guidelines or methods to access governmental information.”

She said, “It needs to be completely overhauled.”

 

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