Sri Lankan Access Bill Going to Parliament on March 8

2 March 2016

The right to information bill will be presented to Parliament on March 8, Sri Lanka’s Mass Media and Parliamentary Reforms Deputy Minister Karunaratne Paranavithana has said.

He said all Provincial Councils have endorsed the draft bill referred to them. “There was a slight delay in the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) in giving consent to the Bill, but that was also a technical delay. The NPC endorsed the Bill last week,” Paranavithana was quoted as saying in The Daily News.

The deputy minister said any concerned party or individual would have the opportunity to challenge the bill before the Supreme Court within a given period after it is presented for the first reading.

The text of the bill will be distributed to all members of parliament on March 8, he said, and amendments could be offered at second reading, a date for which has not been set.

The Cabinet approved the bill Dec. 5 and the two-month time lag had worried its supporters. (See previous report.)

Manik de Silva, the Chief Editor of the Sunday Island, published a column advocating for the legislation. It says in part:

The Right to Information Act would, over time and with regular reference, create a more alert and pro-active citizenry. It would put politicians tempted to bend rule or even brazenly rob on the back foot. They’d be forced to think twice before doing ‘what was always done and what every did and worse, were expected to do’.

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