KARACHI: Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment, under the banner of Citizens’ Voice for Strengthening Transparency and Accountability Mechanisms organized a capacity building session for females on “Freedom of Information (FOI)” at a local hotel.
Dr Syed Raza Ali Gardezi, Project Manager, Shehri-CBE welcomed the participants and introduced the aims and objectives of the workshop. He highlighted the active role Shehri-CBE has played in trying to facilitate good governance by advocating transparency in government functioning, and an informed and pro-active role of citizens in seeking protection of their fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution and legislations of all state institutions.
Dr Raza started the session formally and gave a detailed introduction of FOI and stated that only Article 19(A) has the strength to empower citizens to a greater degree of transparency and accountability of the government. Describing the efficacy of freedom of information, he compared it to sunlight which was the best disinfectant.
Dr Gardezi informed about the FOI legislations that comprise laws guaranteeing access to data held by the state and their status at the national, provincial and local levels. He explained about the applicability of the Ordinance in terms of which type of state institutions can be asked to share data and what type of information can be accessed and what type of information and record is exempt from disclosure.
He explained in detail the process of invoking the FOI Ordinance and said that when asked a query, the governmental section concerned was bound to provide the information within 21 days. He explained the guidelines for making an FOI Application and outlined the salient features of writing an FOI application. He shared the experience of Shehri-CBE in invoking the FOI Act in terms of applications filed and results achieved.
Ms Saima Adeel from Shehri-CBE explained guidelines for making an FOI Application. She also outlined the salient features of writing an FOI application, and informed the participants about the experience of Shehri-CBE in invoking the FOI Act in terms of applications filed and results achieved.
A documentary on FOI was shown to the participants about the importance and significance of FOI as access to information in matters of public importance is their right to know, followed by Ms Humna Mehwish session who steered the participants through a practical exercise on How to write an FOI application.
An interactive question answers session with the participants was conducted at the end. The participants realized that enforcement of Article 19-A is essential to bring transparency in governance system. The participants who attended the workshop asked different questions regarding FOI and understood that effective functioning of democracy depends on participation of well informed and well aware females. The session concluded with the vote of thanks.