ISLAMABAD: The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has called on the government to appoint an information commissioner from the civil society.

The commissioner should be appointed in accordance with the criteria set out in Section 18(c) of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017with proven expertise in human rights and the right to information, the CPDI said.

In this regard, CPDI had earlier sent a letter to Marriyum Aurangzeb, the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, urging her to take necessary steps to ensure that the information commission is constituted with diverse perspectives from different segments of society.

CPDI is a not-for-profit registered civil society organisation working on the issues of Development, Peace and access to information in Pakistan.

“While the government appointed members of Pakistan Information Commission from bureaucracy and judiciary when it appointed Shoaib Siddiqui as Chief Information Commissioner and Ijaz Hussan Awan on January 10, 2023, CPDI believes that the inclusion of a member from civil society in the Information Commission is important to ensure that diverse perspectives from different segments of society are incorporated in the functioning of the Commission.

The Right of Access to Information Act, 2017 requires the government to appoint Information Commissioners through a transparent process in accordance with the criteria set out in the Act, including individuals who have proven experience of working in the area of human rights and right to information,” statement issued by organisation claimed.

“We urge the government to appoint an Information Commissioner who has proven expertise in human rights and the right to information from civil society,” said Mukhtar Ahmad Ali, Executive Director of CPDI.

“This will help ensure that the Information Commission is able to effectively promote transparency and accountability in government operations, as well as protect the fundamental right to information,” he said.

Mukhtar Ahmad also expressed concern over the absence of the third member of the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC), which could adversely impact its functioning. In situations where there is no agreement between the two members, a third member is required as per the law to ensure that there is no tie and decisions on contested issues are made with a majority vote.

“The absence of the third member of the PIC could impede its functioning and compromise the right to information of citizens,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2023

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