Lahore: Punjab Information Commission (PIC) has planned to join Asian Access to Information Alliance (AAIA) which is recently formed with the aim to develop a culture of mutual cooperation and open exchange of information on the Asian continent, with the primary goal of co-developing FOI programs, projects, policies, and practices.
In a response to invitation, Mehboob Qadir Shah, Chief Information Commissioner, PIC, said that it considering to join hands with AAIA as opening of a new vista of RTI for the Commission. It shall be a great initiative to develop Asian outlook of RTI based on our shared view and emphasis.
“I am grateful for inviting and host a very productive and inspiring on-line meeting which will go a long way to broader the RTI family and to sharpen RTI skill. Joining AAIA is under consideration for cooperation and sharing of ideas as well as experiences to mutually benefit from such exercise”, Shah maintained.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Freedom of Information-Project Management Office (FOI-PMO) successfully led an initial online convention with several FOI implementing bodies in Asia last January 28 to lay the preliminaries for the formation of the Asian Access to Information Alliance (AAIA).
The aim of the AAIA formulation was to develop a culture of mutual cooperation and open exchange of information on the Asian continent, with the primary goal of co-developing FOI programs, projects, policies, and practices.
The Freedom of Information-Project Management Office (FOI-PMO) successfully conducted an initial online convention with several FOI implementing bodies in Asia.
“My team has worked tirelessly to maximize the powers granted to us by Executive Order No. 2, s. 2016, to seek and seize prospects for the program’s growth, as well as to lay the groundwork for the country’s implementation of an FOI law,” FOI Program Director Kristian R. Ablan said in his speech.
Ablan advocated the creation of an international alliance that will enable Asian countries to benchmark their knowledge, experiences, and guiding principles in implementing FOI.
Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, Commissioner of the Sri Lankan Right to Information Commission, emphasized the contextual similarities between Asian countries in her message of support.
“Where Asia is concerned, the challenges we face are quite similar in terms of the citizenry, the resources that are lacking in terms of implementing the right to information law in our countries, the obstacles that are faced by the state actors or certain other institutions in the implementation of the right to information law; and these are all matters or issues that could be shared and commented upon and we can learn from these experiences as we go on,” Pinto-Jayawardena said.
To conclude the initial online convention, Commissioner Adrian Alcala of the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information, and Personal Data Protection (INAI) in Mexico openly expressed his support and future prospects for the alliance’s formation.
“Based on what we have learned in both the country and the region, from Mexico and as current Presidents of the RTA, we are in the best disposition to cooperate and build bridges of collaboration to support you in any area of opportunity that you find to consolidate the work of this Alliance; and in the foreseeable future we might sign and formalize an exchange network between the Asian Alliance and the RTA,” Alcala said.
According to a Press release available on Philippine News Agency, the formation of AAIA was inspired by ICIC, as well as the Latin American and African FOI cooperation networks, namely Red De Transparencia y Acceso a la Información (RTA) and the African Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC).
The heads and representatives of the respective access to information implementing offices in Israel, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, as well as the Taiwan consular office in the Philippines, attended and supported the initial online convention. They provided constructive feedback on the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) contents, specifically the alliance framework, commitments, membership, proposed timeline of activities, and the AAIA logo and branding design.