CLD has also been involved in evaluating how governments implement the Right To Information (RTI), a separate question from assessing the strength of an RTI law. One example is in Pakistan. CLD’s projects have aimed at improving service delivery by local governments. The work began in the province of Punjab, and it is being expanded across the country. Amongst other things, CLD has provided advice on the drafts of standard processes for answering to information requests and pro-active informative disclosure. It has also worked in partnership with local groups to develop a methodology to assess the progress of RTI implementation.
Launch of the Right to Information Methodology
The Methodology for for Assessing Right to Information Implementation in Pakistan was launched in February 2019 at a workshop in Islamabad. This methodology is a sophisticated tool for assessing the quality of implementation of right to information laws. The Centre for Law and Democracy has been working over a period of about one and one-half years, in close collaboration with the Information Commissions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces in Pakistan as well as other local stakeholders, to develop this methodology.
Development of Methodology for RTI Implementation
During the summer of 2018, the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) has been working closely with the Information Commissions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces in Pakistan to develop a sophisticated methodology for assessing the quality of implementation of right to information (RTI) laws. Although the methodology is being designed in Pakistan, it will be easy to adapt it for other jurisdictions.
Right to Information Project
In November 2017, the Centre for Law and Democracy kicked off a new right to information (RTI) project in Pakistan with a public presentation on the benefits of RTI. The project aims to provide support to information commissions and local government actors in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces of Pakistan with a view to improving implementation of RTI there. It is being undertaken as part of the Support to Local Governance Programme being run by the official German technical cooperation organisation, Deutsche Gesellshaft für Internationale Zusammenartbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
Analysis of Right To Information Legislation
The Centre for Law and Democracy has prepared an analysis of the Pakistan Right of Access to Information Bill. The Bill, passed by the Pakistani National Assembly, is identical to the version passed by the Senate in May 2017. The Bill earned 105 points on the RTI Rating. This is far better than the right to information law currently in force, the 2002 Freedom of Information Ordinance, but far weaker than the groundbreaking laws adopted by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces in 2013.
CLD has also prepared a Note on the draft Right of Access to Information Act, 2016, which was prepared by the Standing Committee of Federal Cabinet for Disposal of Legislative Business of Pakistan. According to an assessment based on the RTI Rating, the draft receives 97 points out of a possible total of 150 points, putting it in 35th place globally out of the 111 laws assessed on the RTI Rating, below any other country in South Asia.
In October 2016, CLD analysed Sindh province of Pakistan’s draft Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2016 (draft Act), prepared by the government of Sindh. CLD’s Note on the draft Act reveals that it is a reasonable draft, scoring 96 out of a possible 150 points on the RTI Rating, but that much could be done to bring it more fully into line with international standards. The RTI Act currently in force in Sindh is a carbon copy of the 2002 Federal Ordinance, which languishes in the bottom 20 percent of the RTI Rating.
Cybercrime and Freedom of Expression: Comments on Draft Legislation
In early 2014, Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication introduced a draft cybercrime ordinance, the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act. At the time, human rights advocates, including the Centre for Law and Democracy, criticised the draft as a threat to Pakistan’s burgeoning online community and cautioned that its broad language threatened to turn millions of ordinary Internet users into criminals. A slightly revised version (the draft) has now been tabled and we note with concern that few of the main problems have been fixed. CLD prepared comments and recommendations on the draft ordinance.