ISLAMABAD, Sept 22: A little more than a quarter of Station House Officers (SHOs) in Punjab and Sindh were found to be unaware of the Access to Information Policy, according to a quarterly review of police stations issued by FAFEN on Thursday.
The report – Police Stations Monitor – credited the governments of Punjab and Sindh for adopting the policy since 2007 but also insisted it would be effective only when it is implemented. It said at 30% of the monitored police stations in Punjab and 28% in Sindh, the SHOs were unaware of the policy.
The provincial governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are yet to agree on providing citizens with this fundamental right.
FAFEN monitored 152 police stations across the four provinces and ICT during April-June 2011. Of these police stations, 81 were in Punjab, 40 Sindh, 23 in KP, seven Balochistan and one in ICT.
The report said in 27% of the monitored police stations of Punjab and 35% in Sindh, the policy’s copies were not available. An Access to Information Officer was also not designated at 59% and 62% police stations in Punjab and Sindh respectively. Furthermore, in 60% of the monitored police stations in Punjab and 40% in Sindh, the copies of challans to the court were
not accessible to the public.
However, the situation was much better with regards to the transparency of FIRs as 97% police stations monitored in Punjab and 67% in Sindh were sharing information with the public. In 88% of the monitored police stations, the officials were facilitating people in the registration of FIRs, according to the report.
It appreciated that in almost all the police stations where the SHOs were present at the time of visit, they not only allowed observation but also agreed to talk to FAFEN observers.
Discussing staffing in the monitored police stations, the report raised concern about low level of occupancy in Sindh, saying out of the 3,111 posts sanctioned for the male staff, only 1,993 were occupied.
The report said 84% of the monitored police stations were housed in a proper building. But the buildings of 43% were in dilapidated conditions. Arrangements of clean drinking water for staff and inmates were not available in almost a quarter (24%) while latrines for staff and inmates were not available in 12% of the monitored police stations.
On misuse of authority and lack of responsibility, the report said at 12% of the monitored stations, the policemen were observed to be turning people away from the gate. People complained that the policemen demanded monetary and non monetary benefits for the registration of FIRs at the 16% and 14% of the monitored police stations.
People at 18% of the monitored police stations complained that the Investigation Officer demanded logistical support for his official duty of probing a registered case. Though 25% of the police stations did not have the necessary stationery to register an FIR, at 14% of the monitored stations the people complained that the moharrar asked them to bring stationery for the registration of FIR.
FAFEN is a network of 42 civil society organizations working to foster democratic accountabilities in Pakistan. It is governed by the Trust for Democratic Education and Accountability.
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