Conference in Nepal Makes Numerous Recommendations

4 April 2011

Dozens of recommendations for improving the right to information in Nepal are included in a “Kathmandu Declaration” issued March 29 at the conclusion of a two-day conference of some 150 right- to-information experts.

The conference was sponsored by the Freedom Forum and funded by the World Bank. The Freedom Forum website includes links to the several dozen working papers presented at the meeting.

The declaration includes almost four dozen recommendations for the government, civil society, the media, universities and political parties.

 Among the other things, the government is urged to “immediately form a central nodal agency to ensure smooth implementation of RTI legislations, with the power to extend branches as required nationwide.” Improvements in record management and archiving systems are encouraged as is the appointment of information officers in all offices, both at local and central levels. Agencies should utilize modern information technologies, the declaration also states.

The government also should ensure the autonomy in the functioning of the National Information Commission, “come out with a more vigorous and proactive action plan to promote and protect RTI,” ensure efficient handling at all stages of the request process, and make a variety of other procedural improvements.

Civil Society should “build strong, independent and credible alliances and networks to steer the process of RTI mainstreaming,” according to the declaration, and “engage in awareness, advocacy, and education on RTI and exert pressure on concerned agencies to get RTI legislations implemented in meaningful measures.” Capacity building among stakeholders, door—to-door information campaigns creation of RTI information centers also were suggested. Monitoring of public agencies was encouraged.

Suggestions for action by the media, universities, libraries and political parties were included.

“Lastly, the convention also mandates formulating an action monitoring and steering committee represented by diverse sectors to follow up and exert pressure on the concerned stakeholders to ensure that the recommendations made by this convention are translated into practice. It is mandated to put secretariat office at Freedom Forum to put these efforts forward.”

Research Discussed

The National Information Commission, the body for addressing grievances, reported that it has had 79 complaints in the past 21 months.

Chief NIC Commissioner Binaya Kasaju said, “We have successfully delivered in all cases except providing Tribhuvan University answer sheets.” The case is under consideration at the court.

Kasaju also reported that 59 percent of the population is not aware of RTI, while 43 percent think it means freedom of expression, according to a recent research conducted by Basudev Neupane, a development consultant.

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