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Government accused of ‘holding right to information hostage’

AT News

KABUL: The government has been accused of “holding the access to information law hostage” as it recently emerged important bureaucratic institutions including the presidential palace have avoided conveying information to media.

“The government has been very reluctant in implementing the law, and it could be said that the Access to Information Commission has been taken hostage,” Executive Director of Integrity Watch of Afghanistan, Sayed Ikram Afzali, said in a press conference on Wednesday.

Afzali called on the government to remove all barriers facing the law on access to information. “Important government institutions such as the presidential palace, supreme court, attorney general office and national assembly should not transcend the laws,” he said.

He said the commission of access to information is facing a myriad challenges. “They have fundamental problems in overseeing surveillance and protection of media and empowering the culture of dispersing information,” he said.

Afzali’s remarks met with the commission’s reaction, saying that they have appropriately pulled off their task as observer and supporter of media.

This comes a day after 30 media outlets issued a statement accusing the government of withholding information. The letter underlined Afghanistan’s retrograde in terms of access to information compared to past years, expressing trepidation over the exacerbating situation.

President Ghani’s advisor, Wahid Omar, also came to the fore and defended the government’s commitment and effort to promote freedom of media and information. “Government institutions’ intention is transparent and crystal clear and if any shortcoming has risen it would have stemmed from technical difficulties,” he said.

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