The first book on the Afghan Access to Information act is published
Information is sacred and vital for the security of the state, and has historically been the reason that states and government officials try and withhold information from the public. However, this discourse has been challenged for the last one and a half decades.
The changing political landscape has resulted in the realization that access to information is a civil right.
The shift in paradigm calls for greater openness and has augmented the demand and need for sharing information with the general public through various conduits. Information sharing is not only considered a public right but also a pre-requisite for inclusive and transparent governance and accountable.
Karokhel sets out to show us various aspects of information such as information, difference of information and data, role of information in today’s world and personal information.
He also elaborates on privacy, importance of personal information, ways of protecting personal information, highly classified information and statistics information. Karokhel paints a picture of the current practices of dealing with information in Afghanistan gives us example of information in the state machinery and public such as information about the Afghanistan Bank, information about mining sector in Afghanistan, privacy of the state, privacy of a sick person, sharing information of a sick person and journalistic privacy.
Danish walks us through the classification of information, needs for access to information and its classification, right of access to information and expansion of access to information globally in the book. Besides Afghanistan Access to Information, the right to complaint and the interpretation of access to information, he also extends the discussion to the international arena and discusses international practices of access to information.
We meet and observe the work of the Oversight Commission on Access to Information. We see journalists struggling in getting information from government officials and hear practices of denying information by the government officials.
“It’s important that people understand information, their right of access to information, mandate of the Oversight Commission on Access to Information and developments that have taken place in access to information. In order to raise awareness on the above topics, I wrote the book” Danish Karokhel observed.
We are introduced to the Afghanistan Access to Information Law, the documents, legal documents and ways of utilizing the legal documents. The book draws a line between classified documents and noncalcified documents and talks about protecting classified documents, the basic tenants for access to information and the essential features of information and data in Afghanistan. We also come across laws of access to information in various countries in the book.
The author is ideally placed to write on access to information. He has been on both sides of the fence. Danish Karokhel has worked as a journalist for many years and knows the importance of information from a journalistic and citizen’s point of view. He has also been representing civil society in the Oversight Commission on Access to Information as a commissioner for the last two years and is on the supply side of information. Karokhel is part of the team that sets procedures and mechanisms to make the flow of information smooth and user friendly and to make sure that the public and private institutions are accountable for their deeds. The book is a blend of his personal experience as a journalist and as a commissioner of the Oversight Commission on Access to Information.
Publication of this USIP KBO funded book will harvest the culture of probing access to information further and starting up deeper discussion on issues related to information in Afghanistan.
View expressed in this article are of the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Pajhwok’s editorial policy.