With the enabling environment for access to information created, civil society organizations have decided to take the law to a next level of practically requesting the intended information. Therefore, Integrity Watch has started a campaign on request for information at national and provincial levels that includes filing request for information and conducting awareness raising trainings on access to information.
At the national level, Integrity Watch staff have started requesting information from each of the central government agencies for the much-needed information for civil society. Request for information forms have so far been dispatched to several ministries including Ministry of Interior Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Haj, Ministry of Women Affairs, Ministry of Mines & Petroleum, National Procurement Authority, Supreme Court, Ministry of Public Works, and Ministry of Economy among others. Some agencies have denied providing information, based on various logical and illogical reasons. But the requested information has been accessed from some government agencies such as National Procurement Authority and Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Haj, and the Supreme Audit Office.
IWA has completed a series of training workshops on Access to Information for the members of Provincial Integrity Networks (established by Integrity Watch with membership from civil society and the government providing a platform for two dozens of local activists in seven provinces: Kapisa, Bamyan, Herat, Nangarhar, Paktia, Kunduz and Balkh). The aim of these trainings was to introduce the right of access to information, the Oversight Commission on Access to Information (OCAI), and Access to Information Law. These trainings were also aimed at introducing the culture of access to information and starting the practice of requesting information at the provincial level. Therefore, following the trainings, each provincial integrity network member will fill a request for information form and submit it to the relevant local government agency for collecting information.
Access to information plays a decisive role in promoting transparency, uncovering corruption, holding public bodies accountable, and providing a better understanding of how basic public services function. The right of access to information can assist journalists and researchers to prepare investigative reports, it also strengthens public participation in decision-making processes, and provides a clearer understanding of government policies. The Afghan government is bound by the law to respect this right by facilitating access to the information it holds, and by not imposing restrictions unless there are important, legally recognized reasons to withhold the requested information.