Gilgit ( PR): Right to information guaranteed by the Constitution through 18th Amendment and enacted by the Punjab Assembly through Right to Information (RTI) Act 2013 is a basic human right of all citizens as well journalists. This was stated by participants of a two-day training workshop on “Right To Information (RTI) Law and Safety and Security of Journalists” organized by the Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA) with the collaboration of Unesco under its International Programme for Development of Communication (IPDC).
At least 25 local journalists representing mainstream and regional media organizations and human rights activists participated in the workshop.
Eminent media development expert and trainer Aoun Abbas Sahi explained the technical and legal nitty-gritty of the law with an aim to empower participants to use RTI law in effective and safe manner.
He said that journalists and human rights activists should exercise their right in public interest while also ensuring due process was completed and their own safety was not compromised.
Journalists and human rights activists are keen to know and express their desire that how they can use this relatively revolutionary law as a tool of meaningful social accountability of government departments.
The trainer employed participatory and interactive methodology to explain the whole theory and process related to RTI law which was long anticipated and was enacted late last year amid much fanfare from bodies and groups working to promote freedom of expression and access to information.
He said that the safety and security of journalists had emerged as a serious issue because more than 80 journalists had lost their lives during last 10 years in the line of duty only in Pakistan.
He said the Unesco’s report had termed Pakistan ‘the second most dangerous country for journalists’ in the world besides the impunity of killing/intimidation/
The absence of an effective legal information regime to ensure transparency and access to information hampers the capacity of journalists’ bodies and civil society groups to effectively monitor the investigation process and get access to information thereon, Aoun said.
A consultative meeting was held at the end of the workshop on the same subject to build a coalition to demand for an effective law on right to information at all federal, provincial and local levels.