Press Release: Regional RTI Experts Meeting in Dhaka

Posted on 1, November 2017

in Category Editorial, Right To Information, World News


 

Press Release

27 October 2017

 

SOUTH ASIAN AND AFRICAN EXPERTS CALL FOR STRENGTHENING RTI ENFORCEMENT

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27 October 2017, Dhaka: Experts from South Asia and Africa who met in Dhaka, Bangladesh called for strengthening processes to ensure the right to information of all persons, and for ensuring integrity of Information Commissions and recognition of Governments as key stakeholders.

Members and staff of Information Commissions, along with lawyers, journalists and civil society members from 6 countries – Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in South Asia – and Kenya and South Africa – met in Dhaka on 26-27 October 2017. The Social Architects (TSA), Research Initiative Bangladesh (RIB) and Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) hosted the meeting.

Discussions during the conference sessions focused on procedures for seeking information and performance of governments and public authorities in bedding down the transparency regime, appeal and complaint procedures before Information Commissions, the role of the courts in relation to RTI proactive and routine information disclosure, including both low tech and high tech solutions.

Panellists discussed the selection process of Information Commissions, ensuring transparency in the process and guaranteeing insulation from political interests. They highlighted the need for capacity building of RTI service providers/officers.

Panellists urged governments and Information Commissions to put in place accessible and disabled friendly access to information, digitalization of public records and information management.

Based on the urgency in matters relating to information about the life and liberty of an individual under threat, the delegates called for RTI Commissions in the region to prioritize the queries of information pursuers. Social media can be an ally in the promotion of people’s access to truthful and reliable information on the working of public authorities in the age of “post-truth” and “alternative facts”. The panellists also emphasized the role of the media to expedite the process of seeking information and reveal such information more proactively.

Participants also urged government bodies and NGOs to collaborate in spreading awareness among the people about RTI laws. In order to encourage public authorities and civil servants to implement the law effectively, a scheme of incentivizing performance among Government Departments should be instituted along the South African model. This model was fully endorsed by all panellists and participants present at the conference.

Panellists also addressed exemptions to RTI including privacy/data protection – and the role of Information Commissions, Governments, civil society and the media in promoting awareness of RTI. Participants shared 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.

In regard to the role of the judiciary, it was pointed out that it was important to proactively engage in Public Interest Litigation to enable the true spirit of right to information to be realized. The role of interpreting statutes is also a core power that courts could utilize to expand the scope of the right to information.

The regional meeting engaged in an overall assessment of the status of implementation of the RTI legislation, 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.

The Sri Lankan Right to Information Act is presently rated among the strongest in the World. The Centre for Democracy and Law (CLFD), which statistically rates Right to Information laws around the World, ranks Sri Lanka at No. 1 in South Asia and No. 3 in the World. Sri Lanka is only surpassed by Mexico and Serbia.

Press Release: Regional RTI Experts Meeting in Dhaka/world news right to information editorial

Ms. Sherine Xavier, Director, The Social Architects

Press Release: Regional RTI Experts Meeting in Dhaka/world news right to information editorial
Press Release: Regional RTI Experts Meeting in Dhaka/world news right to information editorial
Press Release: Regional RTI Experts Meeting in Dhaka/world news right to information editorial
Press Release: Regional RTI Experts Meeting in Dhaka/world news right to information editorial

Ms. Sherine Xavier, Director, The Social Architects

Press Release: Regional RTI Experts Meeting in Dhaka/world news right to information editorial
Press Release: Regional RTI Experts Meeting in Dhaka/world news right to information editorial
Press Release: Regional RTI Experts Meeting in Dhaka/world news right to information editorial

Press Release: Regional RTI Experts Meeting in Dhaka/world news right to information editorial