The Oversight Commission on Access to Information on Monday said at a conference they are working on a national strategy to ensure the media has access to information, adding that in accordance with a presidential decree, government departments have three days in which to classify information after a request before sharing it with the media.
It is said that many government institutions do not share information with the media, citing it as confidential.
The law of access to information was approved by President Ashraf Ghani in 2014. Two years later, the law has still not been fully implemented. Now however, the commission says media workers can register a complaint with them if refused information.
“All the ministries and government institutions have introduced us to who we should ask for information. The media can contact these sources and if the information is not provided within three days, they can register a complaint against the related department with this commission,” said Sayed Ikram Afzali, chief of the commission.
A number of commission members meanwhile say that government departments should provide the opportunity to media staff to assess and read classified information in the presence of the related department representatives in order to promote investigative journalism in the country.
“We do not need to keep the confidential or highly-confidential information. We can read the information in the presence of the department staff,” said Abdul Shokor Dadras, a member of the commission.
“We have an obligation to work with government departments to facilitate access to information and to be involved in sharing the information to the media,” said Ainuddin Bahaduri, deputy head of the commission.
Government meanwhile said it is committed to sharing information with the media.
“The president has ordered that in addition to spokespersons of government departments, three people are responsible to provide information to the media and attend discussions if needed,” said Dawa Khan Menapal, deputy spokesman of the president.