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PR No. 270 CABINET COMMITTEE ON DISPOSAL OF LEGISLATIVE BUSINESS APPROVES RIGHT OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION BILL-2016 Islamabad: September 30, 2016

Standing Committee of the Cabinet for Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC), in its meeting held on 30th September, 2016, has approved the draft Right of Access to Information Bill – 2016. The draft bill will now be placed before the Cabinet for ratification and subsequently it will be presented before the parliament as a government bill. The Access to Information law, after enactment, will become a remarkable achievement of the present government as it promises to be catalyst for the country’s transition towards informed decision-making, good governance and accountability.

The CCLC meeting was chaired by Federal Minister for Law Justice and Human Rights, Mr. Zahid Hamid and attended by Khawaja Zaheer, Advisor to Prime Minister on Law and Barrister Zafarullah, Special Assistant to PM, Secretary Cabinet and Secretary Information.

The CCLC’s approval marks the culmination of a complex and multi-faceted deliberative process spanning over 7 years. However, credit goes to the present government for expediting the consultations on the Access to Information Bill and accommodating the input from all the stakeholders including civil society, NGOs, media organizations, parliamentarians and law experts.

The imminent passage of Access to Information Law signifies the commitment of the present government to fulfill its constitutional and international obligations. The Article 19-A of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan explicitly recognizes that every citizen of the country shall have the Right to access information in matters of public importance (Subject to reasonable restriction imposed by law). The Article-19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights-1948 & International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights-1966 also endorses the Right to Information as a fundamental human right.

The current Right of Access to Information Bill-2016 is expected to be a rich improvement over Freedom of Information Ordinance-2002, which failed to meet the aspirations of people and became redundant with the expansion in electronic, social and print media in Pakistan.

The current bill is designed to be all encompassing in scope, granting right to seek Information to all citizens of Pakistan, paving the way for a systematic approach regarding proper management and disclosure of record, providing right of complaint, appeal & assistance to the applicant and providing for the establishment of an Information Commission for redressal of complaints as per international practice.

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