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RTI bill presented in Lanka parliament

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The long-awaited Sri Lankan Right to Information bill was presented to parliament on March 24, 2016 the day on which Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe turned 67.

RTI

  • The Cabinet had approved it in December and thereafter was referred to the nine provincial councils for approval.
  • The five-member Right to Information Commission will be appointed by the President on the advice of the Constitutional Council and will comprise nominees of the Bar Association and organizations of publishers, editors and civil society.

Right to Information Act:

  • The Sri Lankan government during the 19th Amendment to the Constitution recognized the Right to Information as a fundamental right. Sri Lanka being the only country in South Asia apart from Bhutan that has yet to adopt an RTI law.

Centre for Law and Democracy’s recommendations on RTI:

  • Foreigners, as well as citizens, should benefit from the right of access.
  • The system for proactive publication should rely more on online publication
  • Third parties should not enjoy a veto over the disclosure of information provided by them.
  • The overall time limit of ten years should apply to all exceptions that protect public interests.
  • The Commission should enjoy enhanced powers and its decisions should be binding.
  • The law should provide protection for whistle-blowers.
  • A number of measures should be adopted to enhance further the independence of the oversight body, the Right to Information Commission