Sri Lanka

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  • 25 August 2016

    CHRI Analysis of the New Sri Lanka RTI Law

    The following summary of the new Sri Lankan RTI law was prepared by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. On 04 August, 2016, the Hon’ble Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka certified their RTI Bill as having been “duly passed by Parliament”. With this certification, the RTI Bill has become law in Sri Lanka. Unlike many […]

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  • 27 June 2016

    Sri Lanka Passes RTI Law; Campaign Began in 2004

    Sri Lanka’s Parliament on June 24 unanimously approved an amended right to information bill. The Right to Information Act, No 12 of 2016, was finally certified by the Speaker on Aug. 4 (text). Some changes, largely technical, were made to bill to accommodate the opinion of the Supreme Court. (See previous reports here and […]

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News Archive

  • 18 May 2016

    Transparency Needed for Sri Lanka’s Constitutional Council

    By Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena The author is a Colombo based civil liberties advocate and a regular contributor to The Sunday Times where this column appeared May 15. In a notably pungent observation at the close of her mission visit to Sri Lanka this month, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers […]

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  • 11 May 2016

    Sri Lankan Court Decision on RTI Legislation Analyzed

    Analysis has continued on the Sri Lankan Supreme Court’s pronouncements on the draft right to information law, with the most detailed analysis saying the decision “held little surprises.” So wrote Kishali Pinto Jayawardene, a lawyer and human rights activist, who said: “In the main, the ruling did not pose formidable challenges to the basic integrity […]

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  • 5 May 2016

    Sri Lanka Court Faults Five Minor Clauses in RTI Bill

    Sri Lanka’s highest court has declared that five minor parts of a right to information bill are unconstitutional and would need a two-thirds majority in Parliament to become law, but alterations could allow passage on a majority vote. “The amendments suggested by the SC are mostly of technical nature and do not undermine the purpose […]

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  • 14 April 2016

    Is RTI Bill Sri Lanka Leaving Victims Behind?

    By Gehan Gunatilleke The author  is a human rights lawyer based in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and the Research Director of Verité Research. He is the author of The Right to Information in Sri Lanka: A Guide for Advocates (2014). He is also a Commonwealth scholar at New College, University of Oxford. Follow him on twitter […]

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  • 7 April 2016

    Lawsuits Challenge Constitutionality of Proposed Sri Lankan RTI Law

    A handful of lawsuits have been filed challenging the constitutionality of the proposed right to information legislation in Sri Lanka. Under Sri Lankan procedures, the challenges will be heard by the Supreme Court before legislative action proceeds. The Sri Lankan government presented an RTI bill to parliament in March. (See previous report.) Various amendments […]

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  • 30 March 2016

    Sri Lankan Provincial Council Urges Strengthening FOI Bill

    The Northern Provincial Council has recommended specific ways to beef up the Sri Lankan government’s proposed right to information bill. The draft bill was tabled March 23. (See previous report.) The Northern Provincial Council wants RTI to cover held by private authorities if such information is necessary in the public interest, according to a description of […]

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  • 24 March 2016

    After Delay, RTI Bill Presented in Sri Lanka

    The right to information bill was tabled in Parliament by Media Minister Gayantha Karunatillake on March 23, according an article in The Colombo Gazette, another in News First and a third in The Sunday Times. The introduction of the draft bill was delayed from a promised March 8 date while Provincial Councils reviewed it. All nine […]

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  • 23 March 2016

    Speakers at SE Asian Meeting Urge Publicizing RTI

    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 […]

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  • 2 March 2016

    Sri Lankan Access Bill Going to Parliament on March 8

    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 […]

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  • 18 February 2016

    Delays in Sri Lanka Worry Supporters of RTI Bill

    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 […]

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  • 15 December 2015

    Sri Lankan Cabinet OKs Draft Right to Information Bill

    The Sri Lankan Cabinet on Dec. 2 approved a draft right to information bill that is expected to be introduced in Parliament in January. The draft text was the subject of a critical preliminary analysis by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), which listed 32 reservations about the bill. The Centre for Law and Democracy also […]

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  • 24 September 2015

    RTI Bill Ready for Review Sri Lankan Official Says

    A draft right to information bill will soon be sent to the Attorney General’s Department, according to an article by Nadira Gunatilleke in The Daily News. The bill also will go to all Provincial Councils in order to educate them on the proposed bill, according to Media and Parliament Rehabilitation Minister and Co-Cabinet Spokesman Gayantha […]

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  • 29 June 2015

    Sri Lanka Fails to Pass RTI Bill Before New Elections

    Right to information legislation promised by the new president has not passed in Sri Lanka, a victim of political differences over electoral reform that led President Maitripala Sirisena to dissolve parliament and call new elections. Passage of an RTI bill in his first 100 days in office was a campaign pledge for Sirisena, who was […]

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  • 3 June 2015

    Other Issues Sidetrack RTI Legislation in Sri Lanka

    The right to information bill in Sri Lanka has lost momentum, according to several persons following the legislation that the new government said would pass in the first 100 days. Political attention has turned to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution concerning the election system. The RTI bill “was presented and approved by the Cabinet […]

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  • 25 March 2015

    Article 19 Urges Sri Lanka Not to Limit Human Rights

    Sri Lanka’s draft constitutional amendment on freedom of expression and the right to information should be broadened “to make sure that constitutional rights are available to all, not just citizens,” according to Article 19, the London-based free expression group. In a March 23 statement, Thomas Hughes, Article 19 Executive Director, said: According to international law […]

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  • 5 March 2015

    Sri Lanka’s RTI Bill – Misconceptions and Recommendations

    By Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena and Venkatesh Nayak This article appeared Feb. 28 in The Sri Lanka Guardian. Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena is a Colombo based civil liberties advocate, the editorial (legal) consultant/columnist for the Sunday Times and a legal consultant for the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICwS) Sri Lanka media law initiative based at the University of London, […]

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  • 17 February 2015

    Sri Lanka Issues Draft Bill; Commenters Urge Changes

    The new Sri Lankan government has issued draft right to information bill that several international organizations say is good but needs improvements. With rapid passage in mind, the government provided limited time for comment before it is presented before Parliament, possibly on Feb. 20. (See draft bill here.) The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative welcomes the initiative and […]

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  • 29 January 2015

    Sri Lankan Government Plans Committee to Draft RTI Bill

    The new Sri Lankan government will form a committee to prepare a right to information bill, according to media reports including an extensive article in The Island by Randima Attygalle and a published interview of a key minister. The planned working committee of 15-20 members will include the Secretary to the Mass Media and Information Ministry, […]

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  • 15 January 2015

    Election in Sri Lanka Boosts Prospects for RTI Legislation

    Prospects for passage of a right to information law in Sri Lanka have improved dramatically with the election of Maithripala Sirisena. Sirisena has pledged that an RTI law would be among the measures passed within his first 100 days in office. Sirisena’s top aide Rajitha Senaratne said that Sirisena has ordered the immediate lifting of […]

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  • 9 May 2014

    Advocates Begin RTI Petition Campaign in Sri Lanka

    A petition calling on the government to pass a right to information law is being circulated in Sri Lanka, where efforts to pass a bill have been frustrated in recent years. The Action Committee for Media Freedom Rights activists held an event in Colombo May 5 to launch the petition drive. “This is the only […]

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  • 10 August 2012

    Sri Lanka Media Groups Object to Official Excuse

    Sri Lanka’s Secretary to the Ministry of Media and Information Charitha Herath July  27 said concerns about national security will keep freedom of information legislation from coming before parliament any time soon. After his remarks at a meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC ) in Colombo, four leading media rights organizations […]

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  • 14 May 2012

    Renewed Effort to Bring Up RTI Bill in Sri Lanka Blocked

    The ruling party in Sri Lanka has blocked an effort by the main opposition party to bring up right to information legislation, according to media reports. The United National Party presented its RTI proposal to the Speaker of Parliament, but was told the bill could not be presented because it had been defeated in June […]

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  • 7 July 2011

    Sri Lankan RTI Backers Shudder at Rajapaksa Quote

    Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week told newspaper editors that a law to protect the people’s right to information was unnecessary. He said instead that he could ensure access to information, saying “just ask me for a file and I will give it to you,” according media reports such as this one in Lakmiba […]

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  • 24 June 2011

    Sri Lankan Government Pledges to Present RTI Bill

    The Sri Lankan parliament has defeated an opposition proposal for a freedom of information, but the government has promise once again to make its own proposal, according to a report in The Daily Mirror. The bill offered by United National Party Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya was defeated in a vote with 97 members against it and […]

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  • 10 June 2011

    Sri Lanka Party Leaders Reject RTI Proposal

    The Sri Lankan government has rejected a proposed right to information law, again saying it could draft a better bill, according to a report in The Nation. United National Party (UNP) senior Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya, who had proposed the bill, subsequently said he would take the issue to the people at the grassroots level, […]

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  • 29 September 2010

    Sri Lankan Government Blocks FOI Bill, Promises Own

    The Sri Lankan government Sept. 23 said it is drafting a freedom of information law, according to media reports. Sri Lanka’s main opposition United National Party was asked to withdraw a private member’s freedom of information bill. UNP legislator Karu Jayasuriya moved to present a bill, but Chief Government Whip Minister Dinesh Gunawardena asked the […]

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  • 1 October 2002

    Disclosure or Deception? Multilateral Development Banks and Access to Information

    By Shalmali Guttal, Focus on the Global South, October 2002 Multilateral institutions such as the Asian Development Band (ADB) and the World Bank pride themselves on their information disclosure policies. Especially since the Asian economic crisis, they have held their policies up as evidence of their commitment to transparency, accountability and participation. Information disclosure policies […]

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LEGAL DOCUMENTS Right to Information Law (2016) RTI Regulations (2016) The Information Commission  



Measuring Openness

Global Right to Information Rating
A country-by-country rating of laws by the Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

Freedom House
The Freedom in the World report.

World Bank
Worldwide Governance Indicators

Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index
Measures perceptions of the degree of corruption.

Reporters Without Borders
The Press Freedom Index.