Concept Note: Regional RTI Experts Meeting in Dhaka
Posted on 31, October 2017
REGIONAL EXPERTS’ MEETING ON ASSESSING THE USE OF RIGHT TO INFORMATION LAWS IN SOUTH ASIA AND AFRICA
The Social Architects (TSA), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and Research Initiatives Bangladesh are holding a regional meeting in Dhaka, bringing together members and staff of Information Commissions from 4 countries in the region (Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka), and from South and East Africa, along with lawyers, journalists and civil society members over two days. Discussants will reflect on the strategies adopted to operationalize information commissions, and activate their processes, and to share best practices, with a particular focus on the provision of new remedies to protect fundamental rights, and on ensuring accountability of both public and private authorities. The convening will be preceded by a day of more intensive interaction by a team form Sri Lanka with members of the Bangladesh Information Commission and civil society members who have been closely involved in supporting the Commission in its work.
- To increase understanding among key stakeholders (RTI Advocates (lawyers, journalists and civil society members) as well as Commission Members and Staff in South Asia, on the best practices adopted to date in ensuring access to information and accountability of public and private authorities .
- To enable participants from Sri Lanka (with the newest Information Commission in South Asia) to identify through dialogue and observation with members from other ICs in the region and independent experts, the best practices in ensuring access to information or accountability of authorities, in order to develop their own standard operating procedures and working practices.
About 32 participants will take part from four countries in South Asia where Information Commissions are currently operating, as well as one where one is proposed to be set up, and four African countries, including
- Members of the Information Commission
- Members of the Secretariat of the Information Commission
- Civil Society Members
- EXPECTED OUTCOMES
The convening will result in an overall assessment of the status of implementation of the RTI legislation in each of the four countries, examining the use of RTI in country specific contexts in the context of civil and political and economic and social rights, mapping out challenges, and evaluating successes.
More specifically, the convening will also result in an introduction of the new Sri Lankan RTI legislation to counterpart organizations in the region, and will scope out potential for its operationalization. It will also involve a learning experience for Sri Lankan participants engaged with RTI through interaction and dialogue with IC members and information activists and researchers from other countries and their decade of experience. Finally, it will acquaint those involved with the Sri Lankan RTI regime with the Bangladesh RTI regime, given that the reach of the law in each case correspondence, in relation to its coverage of both public and private bodies.
- ORGANIZATIONAL COLLABORATION
THE SOCIAL ARCHITECTS (TSA)
TSA was created in 2012 to be a forum to synthesis and analysis documentation collected in the north, east and hill country of Sri Lanka. TSA works predominately to promote that conflicting historical views are reconciled and allow for shared history that can be accepted by all sides and for lessons from the present feelings of blame, mistrust and justice. TSA’ aspires “To protect, promote, record and preserve for the benefit of the public or any section of the public within or without in one or more of the following:
- 1. Bring victims’/survivors voices to the fore, by helping document and share their stories through new communication technology and digital media in the form of documentaries and film, and supporting restorative justice tribunals that center on their experiences;
- 2. Support for Reconciliation Initiatives and Enforcement of Sri Lanka’s Domestic and International Legal Obligations;
- 3. Promote reconciliation through culture and the art;
- 4. Recovery of the Historical Memory in Sri Lanka.
Currently TSA has initiated a project to “Enhancing Citizens Action for State Accountability through the use of Right to Information Act”.
BANGLADESH LEGAL AID AND SERVICES TRUST (BLAST)
BLAST, the largest dedicated non-governmental legal services organization in the country, established following a resolution of the Bangladesh Bar Council in 1993, provides legal advice, mediation and litigation to individuals and communities who are poor and marginalized. It operates in 25 districts through district offices, university legal clinics, and community clinics, working uniquely from the frontlines of the justice system to the highest court. It also undertakes research and advocacy, including public interest litigation for law and policy reforms to ensure effective legal protection of rights.
RESEARCH INITIATIVES, BANGLADESH (RIB)
RIB has worked over the last one decade among marginalized and socially excluded “missing” communities of the country. The main objective of its work has been to promote participation of these communities in the search for knowledge to improve their own conditions of life. RIB’s efforts over the years have led a large number of these communities to become makers/agents of their own change.RIB has extensive experience of working with the marginalized, ethnic minority communities and socially excluded communities living both in urban and remote rural areas aimed at poverty alleviation, children’s education, RTI, human rights, and agriculture.