Oversight body on access to info law seeks budget
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Oversight Commission on Access to Information Law on Sunday said not allocating budget for the body by the government had created problems for it.
Wolesi Jirga member Ramazan Bashardost, a member of the commission, said international problems of the government and denial of access to information by government officials were challenges to enforcing the law on access to information.
The law on right to information was enacted in 2014 after being signed by the president. Nearly 10 months earlier, a commission named Oversight Commission on Access to Information Law was formed.
The commission chairman, Syed Ikram Afzali, told a press conference here that no budget had been allocated for the commission to perform its activities and even no financial or technical resources had been provided for enforcement of the law.
Last year, the government repeatedly promised with the commission to allocate budget for it in the current fiscal year, but it did not happen, he said, adding due to a lack of financial and technical facilities, the commission was struggling with several problems while many government entities even did not recognise the commission.
Afzali said the government should not only depend on formulating laws, but should facilitate enforcing of laws in the country.
While calling the law on access to information as a big achievement for Afghanistan, he said “ we accept that the law on access to information is not fully effective and we believe people who oppose good governance area afraid of this law but there are also people who support the law and good governance.”
Over the past 10 months, he said, the commission had contacted different national and international organizations to develop a cultural of cooperation.
Deputy information and cultural minister Syeda Muzhgan Mustafawi said there were no drawbacks in the law on access to information and the national constitution also ensured freedom of expression and access to information.
But due to the past culture of dictatorship, the cultural of hiding information remained common in the country, she said.
He said the government was not owner of information, but it was a keeper of the information and was responsible to share information with people.
She promised the Ministry of Information and Culture would cooperate with the commission in dissemination of information and encouraging the cultural of access to information.
She also asked donor agencies to help the commission enforce the law on right to information and to strengthen the nascent democracy in Afghanistan. Her ministry has been trying to include the entity in the budgetary plan of the next fiscal year, she said.
However, Bashardost said articles of the law were in conflict with each other. “Over the past two weeks, Kabul has turned into a military camp, even visitors cannot enter parliament compound, how would people find access to information.”
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.