Delays in Sri Lanka Worry Supporters of RTI Bill

18 February 2016

An apparent delay in the introduction of right to information legislation in Sri Lanka is troubling for RTI supporters.

The RTI Bill was supposed to have been tabled in Parliament in January 2015. (See previous report.) The Sri Lankan Cabinet on Dec. 2 approved a draft RTI bill that was expected to be introduced in Parliament in January after being published in the Official Gazette and sent to the local Provincial Councils and other local bodies for their comments.

“We are now in the middle of February 2015 and there is no indication of this as yet,” according to Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, legal analyst and columnist for Colombo’s Sunday Times.

“Reportedly the government is awaiting the approval of the Northern Provincial Council as the Constitution mandates that the provinces must be consulted on Bills of this nature,” she told via e-mail.

Analyzing the situation, the journalist wrote:

We remain extremely concerned about the delay. There are significant lobbies poised to oppose the Bill, both within government and outside. These comprise politicians including ministers and others who do not wish to have their corrupt activities exposed. Their efforts may be to dilute the contents of the Bill. That would be unacceptable. The RTI Bill is progressive in several respects. It may be improved further, not watered down. Further dilution will defeat public expectations as well as the considerable work and effort put into the drafting process by us last year.

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