PESHAWAR: International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) – “Access to Information in Times of Crisis” was celebrated on Monday, by UNESCO with partners including the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC), the EU delegation in Pakistan, the Embassy of Sweden, the Embassy of Netherlands, and the Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO).
The new Online Appeal Management Information System (AMIS) of the Pakistan Information Commission, along with a new website was launched on the occasion with the support of UNESCO’s Multi-donor program on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists. The initiative aims to support citizens’ fundamental right of access to information through robust e-governance systems, which directly contribute to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16: Peace, Justice and Strong institutions.
The Appeal Management Information System will enable citizens to file information requests with PIC online, accessible via the website www.rti.gov.pk. The newly developed portal has been integrated with a system that allows the commission to process multiple requests digitally, says a press release. In the wake of COVID-19, the need to strengthen digital systems has grown rapidly, especially in terms of accessing and sharing public information.
Ms. Patricia McPhillips, Country Representative and Director, of UNESCO welcomed the participants and stressed that the access to information is an integral part of strengthening democracies as it instils transparency and accountability. Mr. Wouter Plomp, Netherlands Ambassador to Pakistan, emphasized the need to enforce the Right to Information (RTI) laws in order to facilitate citizens, and also to remain open to gradually improving the Right to Information laws.
A panel comprising of citizen information request filers and journalists also shared their experience of using the RTI law and the role of a proactive commission to facilitate its implementation. Later on Pakistan Information Commissioners explained the importance of the online appeal management information and its role in the facilitating citizens.
In 2019, 74th United Nations General Assembly adopted International Day for Universal Access to Information as a United Nations day. As the designated agency UNESCO globally monitors the number of countries that adopt and implement constitutional, statutory/ and or policy guarantees for public access to information.