Journalists want law on access to info approved
KABUL (PAN): Journalists, backed by the media-support organisation NAI, on Wednesday asked the government to send at the earliest the draft law on access to information to the parliament for approval.
Civil society and media organisations drafted the proposed law two years back and handed it to the Ministry of Information & Culture, which referred the draft to the Ministry of Justice for vetting three months ago.
Rallying in front of the Parliament, NAI and journalist representatives gave the government one week to present the proposed law to the legislature; otherwise they would prepare another draft and hand it to legislators for endorsement.
In a unanimously passed resolution, the protestors said approval of the draft law could prevent corruption in many state institutions. “This law is very important for journalists because it allows them access to information,” it said.
Freedom of expression would become meaningless if reporters were denied access to necessary information, the resolution said, asking lawmakers to help media representatives against the individuals who created hurdles for them.
Noor TV reporter Hamid Siddiqui told Pajhwok Afghan News the government should not further delay the draft law’s dispatch to the parliament.
“Though I’m not sure government officials will share information with us with the passage of the law, yet we can invoke for better coverage of different issues and events,” he remarked.
Another protestor, Ziaullah Daud of Maiwand TV, also called for approval of the suggested legislative measure. Currently, only well-connected people could acquire important information, he believed.
NAI chief Siddiqullah Tawhidi said the Cabinet was expected to approve the draft law two months ago, but the ministers had not yet taken it up, much less sent to the parliament.
“With next year’s elections drawing closure, approval of this law is needed to facilitate access to information,” he observed.
Heelai Irshad, the head of the Wolesi Jirga Religious and Cultural Affairs Commission, supported the protestors’ demand. “I’ll hand your resolution to the Administrative Board of the assembly and write a letter to the government to dispatch the draft to the Wolesi Jirga.”
On the other hand, Cabinet Secretariat Director of Information Rafi Firdaus said the draft law had been placed before the Council of Ministers two months ago. The Cabinet referred the law to a committee including representatives from different government organs to bring necessary amendments to it.
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