Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and Deutsche Welle Akademie (DW) have launched an innovative pilot measure in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Punjab to promote the right to access to information of citizens and journalists. The launching event on 14th July 2016 in Islamabad brought together officials from the Right to Information Commissions, media and academia who all pledged their support to implementing the Right to Information Acts.
The German Ambassador, Ms. Ina Lepel, stressed upon the importance of the Right to Information legislation in strengthening state-citizen dialogue as it fosters the trust of the citizens in their state. She said that the German Government is very happy to extend its support towards this important goal.
The aim of the pilot measure “Implementing Right to Information Acts – Promoting data-driven journalism” is to implement the Right to Information Acts in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in a more user-friendly manner. It will promote dialogue between media professionals and staff at public authorities to jointly identify expectations and challenges of both sides with regards to accessing information. Also, training measures for the staff in public authorities will be developed on how to publish well-edited, relevant data on digital platforms. The staff will be trained on how to respond to the requests made for information and how to present the information in a user-friendly way.
Furthermore, the pilot measure will build the capacities of journalists and media companies to make professional use of the provided data – on issues such as taxes, local planning processes, budgets and accountability – in their reporting. Capacities for data-driven journalism will also be improved through trainings and lectures in the existing training institutes for journalists.
The governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) adopted the Right to Information Acts (RTI) in 2013 and established a legal framework for greater transparency and better access to information. This means that now every public body is required to designate a public information officer (PIO) who will respond to the requests for information by the public. Although PIOs have been recruited, the mechanism of information sharing is not yet being implemented efficiently. Also, the public bodies lack the capacity to provide information in a proactive and user-friendly manner.
At the same time, very few journalists and citizens are using their right to access the information, mainly because they are unaware of their rights and the RTI legislation. Even when they do receive the information, they are unable to analyse and process it properly.
The pilot measure will address these issues to improve people’s access to understandable information about public administration.