Speakers at SE Asian Meeting Urge Publicizing RTI

23 March 2016

Representatives from five South Asia countries held a regional conference on right to information on March 16-17, stressing the need to encourage greater use of RTI laws, according to an article in The Daily Times and another in The Tribune.

Delegates from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal met at a conference sponsored by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency in collaboration with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa RTI Commission and Punjab Information Commission.

Nikhil Dey, a founding member of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), Rajasthan, urged civil society and media to highlight the potential uses of RTI, citing as an example of the 10,000 RTI applications that the MKSS helped ordinary citizens lodge in the state of Rajasthan. (Also see a long description of the MKSS effort here by Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty.)

Aruna Roy, an MKSS founder, said, “Opening the activities of institutions such as Parliament as well as the performance of legislators themselves is a prerequisite to a modern democracy,” according to an article in The Business Recorder.

Krishna Hari Baskota, Chief Information Commissioner of Nepal spoke on the initiatives being taken by the National Information Commission of Nepal including a system of RTI audits.

National Situations Reviewed

Pakistani Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed urged the government to not to further delay the passage of an RTI bill on account of concerns for the security of sensitive information on defense and foreign relations. The bill was approved by the Senate on July 15, 2014, but is still waiting to be tabled in the National Assembly.

Sri Lankan Member of Parliament Jaymapathy Wickramaratne said the Sri Lankan draft RTI bill that has been ranked the seventh best in the world. The articles about the conference do not address why the government has delayed introducing the bill past the promised date of March 8.

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