NGO Recommends Reforming Bangladesh Exemptions

22 January 2015

A nongovernmental organization in Bangladesh has recommended reforming the exemption section in the 2009 Right to Information Act.

The Management and Resource Development Initiative (MRDI) said section 7 of the RTI law should be changed to make it more favorable for the public. MRDI Executive Director Hasibur Rahman presented the recommendations to Chief Information Commissioner Mohammed Farooq.

The proposals were based on a survey was conducted by the MRDI in partnership with Manusher Jonno Foundation and with technical assistance from the Information Commission. (See MRDI report on Section 7 in Bangla.)

“Some conditions of the section-7 need to be reviewed and explained properly,” Farooq was quoted as saying in The Daily Star article.

Section 7 lists 20 types of information which do not have to be disclosed and was the subject of a conference in October at which reforms were discussed. The exemptions include information relating to state security and sovereignty, foreign policy, intellectual property, public security, contempt of court, cabinet decision, any investigation process and prejudicial to the rights of the House of the Nation.

MRDI Executive Director Rahman said some authorities do not provide information by misinterpreting and misusing the section.

He said that a clause permitting nondisclosure of “any such information that may, if disclosed, impede the process of investigation” should be amended to say “any such information that may, if disclosed, impede the process of investigation and the process of taking a final decision.”

He suggested dropping two subsections — “any such information which is, according to the law, liable to be published only for a certain period of time” and “any such information pertaining to a governmental purchase process before it is complete or a decision has been taken about it.”

Other recommendations call for clarifying and reorganizing the section.

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