Decree issued on accelerating access to information
KABUL (Pajhwok): Two years after the law on access to information was approved and the departments concerned ordered to implement it, President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday issued a new decree on speeding up the process of public’s access to information.
Mohammad Haroon Chakhansuri, a spokesman for Ashraf Ghani, read out the presidential decree at a press conference here, saying the order was aimed at providing ‘right and timely’ information to public.
Ghani ratified the access to information law in December 2014, but since then many journalists and relevant agencies have been voicing concerns about its implementation. The journalists have accused some high ranking government officials of creating hurdle to their quest for access to information.
The new decree in seven sections supports the law on access to information and tasks government officials with contributing to the law’s implementation and providing information to people.
Sidiqullah Tawhedi, head of Nai, an organization that supports free media in Afghanistan, said every high ranking official was responsible to provide media outlets and people with information in accordance with the law.
He hoped the new decree’s implementation would resolve problems journalists faced. “Most cases of violence against journalists registered this year took place when journalists sought access to information."
Meanwhile, a number of journalists' rights organizations called on the government to implement the decree and investigate cases of violence against journalists.
Pajhwok editor-in-chief Danish Karokhail and a member of the Oversight Commission on Access to Information (OCAI), also spoke on the occasion.
Danish asked all government authorities to help journalists gain timely access to information in line with the law and the president’s recent order.
"Journalists who encounter problems in gaining access to information will be able to timely receive information after the decree is issued."
He said the OCAI would seriously monitor the performance of government organizations in providing information to journalists and in case of any violation of the decree, the authorities concerned would be reported. “If the problem continues, a step would be taken,” he added.
Danish said the OCAI was ready to help the government categorize confidentiality of information based on the new decree.
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