Right to Information

Ministry refuses to share CCTV footage of journalist’s abduction

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Interior is unwilling to share the CCTV footage of journalist and anchorperson Matiullah Jan’s abduction incident with the former parliamentarian despite reminders and notice by the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC).

Former Senator Farhatullah Babar on July 22, 2020 wrote a letter to the Interior Secretary requesting to provide the Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) footage showing the kidnapping incident of a senior journalist Matiullah Jan at Government Girls School G-6 Islamabad dated July 21, 2020.

He moved to Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) when he did not receive any response from the Ministry of Interior despite sending them a reminder about his information request.

PIC which is appellant forum to decide the appeals received against the public bodies who either do not respond or deny the information requests filed by the citizens of Pakistan.

The Commission on the appeal of Farhatullah Babar had issued notice to the Ministry of Interior with the directives to explain why the requested information is not being provided to the applicant.

The public body did not respond to the notice of the commission. The case was fixed for hearing before the Pakistan Information Commission on Thursday, October 08, 2020.

However, during hearing no one appeared on behalf of Ministry of Interior before the commission.

Section 5 of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 states, Publication and availability of the record—(1) The principal officer of each public body shall, within six months of the commencement of this Act, ensure that the following categories of the information and record are duly published including uploading over the internet or in a manner which best ensures that these are accessible subject to reasonable restrictions based on limited resources;  l) Camera footages at public places, wherever available, which have a bearing a crime.

During the hearing of the case, former Senator Farhatullah Babar said, CCTV footage at public places, showing a crime should be available on the website of the Ministry of Interior under Section 5 of the act.

He added, if a single government official is identified in the footage, it would help the authorities to decide the missing person cases.

Farhatullah Babar requested the commission to impose fine on the concerned officers for willfully delaying the requested information.

Babar maintained that he would ask the question from the Ministry of Interior during the hearing that who have barred the Ministry from sharing the footage, but unfortunately, they did not appeared before the commission.

“My next step will be to get the noting made on my information request and commission notices, to know who have denied the provision of footage requested under the Right of Access to Information Act”, he added.

According to Section 20 (f) of the Act, the commission has the power to impose on the official a fine equivalent to his salary for one day, for a maximum of one hundred days, who has acted willfully to obstruct any activity which is required to be undertaken by this act, including preventing or delaying the disclosure of information to an applicant.

 

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