New Advisory Body Formed on South Asia RTI Issues

4 April 2011

A new 16-person body, the South Asia Advisers on the Right to Information, was formed during a two-day long convention in Kathmundu, Nepal, from March 27- 29.

Made up of chief information officers, RTI activists and others, the group will discuss “transparency law, norms for information commissions, and capacity building among government officials, media and civic organizations,” according to a description in The Himalayan Times.  It will also seek to raise awareness about right to information laws.

The group includes Chief Information Commissioners Muhammad Zamir of Bangladesh, Binaya Kasaju of Nepal, and Shailesh Singh of India, the report said.  The announcement came at a meeting in Nepal sponsored by the Freedom Forum. (See related report in FreedomInfo.org.)

A statement issued by the group says, “We believe the right to information is one of the most effective ways to improve governance, transparency and accountability.” The group includes representatives from all eight countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and is expected to meet twice a year.

The meeting was attended by Senior Adviser of Administrative Reforms and Civil Service Commission of Afghanistan Rahela Sidiqi, Chief Information Commissioner of Bangladesh Ambassador (Rtd) Muhammad Zamir & Chairman of Research Initiatives Bangladesh Shamsul Bari, News Editor of Business Bhutan Tenzing Lamsang, Chairman of National Minorities Commission and former Chief Information Commissioner of India Wajahat Habibullah, Information Commissioner of Central Information Commission of India Shailesh Gandhi, Representative from National Campaign for People’s Right to Information of India Shekhar Shingh, Chief Information Commissioner of Bihar A.K. Choudhary, Senior Public Sector Management Specialist of The World Bank Vikram K Chand, Human Rights Ambassador of Maldives Mohammad Latheef, Chief Information Commissioner of National Information Commission of Nepal Vinaya Kasajoo and Chair person of Freedom Forum Nepal Tara Nath Dahal, Former Minister of Education of Pakistan Ahsan Iqbal and Executive Director of PILDAT of Pakistan Ahmed Bilaal Mehmood, Director of Center for Policy Alternatives of Sri Lanka Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu and Constitutional Expert of Sri Lanka Rohan Edrisinha.

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