Oversight Commission on Access to Information (OCAI) in collaboration with civil societies and mass media entities formally inaugurated a 30-day campaign of promoting culture of access to information in a press conference on August 29, 2016.
This campaign was held at GMIC in which the commission members, mass media CEOs and journalists, civil societies’ representatives participated and comprehensively discussed over the activities that the commission should conduct with consistent cooperation of these entities on the eve of the universal day of access to information.
In the beginning, Sayed Ikram Afzali, OCAI’s chairman, stated that: the universal day of access to information is on Sep 28 and the Oversight Commission on Access to Information is determined to celebrate it for the very first time in Afghanistan; therefore, the commission is planning to launch an awareness campaign via various programs such as: workshops for Information Public Officers’ (IPOs) of governmental organizations, awareness programs for the officials of the ministries, advertising through posters, audible and visual video clips, billboards, banners, stickers, attending press meetings, social media campaign and as well as celebrating the universal day of access to information. He also added: Indeed, access to information is every citizen’s fundamental right and its government’s responsibility to hold a clear stance on the issue and provide the information to the public upon their request except the confidential information which also needs to be justifiably reasoned. Withal, the commission, besides its other duties, is also responsible to watch over the implementation of the law of access to information.
Then, Mr. Recardo, the representative of UNESCO, pledged to cooperate with the commission and expressed, “UNESCO is an intergovernmental institution which functions in the various fields both with the government, Medias and other institutions.”
He stated that: perhaps, this is the first time that the majority of the mass media CEOs, journalists came along with a commission to work together on a very significant issue which is right to information. In fact, this is a very positive step having mass media and other institutions around to cooperate towards promoting culture of access to information. Indeed, law is a political commitment of a governing bodies but it’s the civil societies and media who play a key role in further implantation of the law. Experiences indicate that there are three main principles that contribute greatly on better application of Access to Information Law:
- Establishment of a commission
- Active involvement of civil entities
- Mass media cooperation
“As I am very delighted to discuss and decide with you on a very important topic which is access to information right in order to transform it to a culture.”
After that, Mr. Karokhel, head of Pajhwak News Agency, expressed his gratitude to the CEOs of mass media and journalists for their active participation and determinant commitments and added: we urge from mass media journalists to aid the commission and take active part particularly in publishing the printing materials and other audible and visual messages in order to better get the public well informed of their basic right. It will not be possible unless we put our hands together and strive collectively to pressurize the government for a productive outcome. Hence, we request from you to deliver the message of the commission to the relevant organizations.
Later on, Najiba Muram, head of publications of the Ministry of Information and Culture, also asked the media journalists to better and further cooperate with Oversight Commission on Access to Information in better implementation of the 30-day campaign.
At the end, Sayed Ikram Afzali, the chairman of OCAI and Fahim Dashti, head of executive of journalists’ union, answered to the questions posed by the participants.