- RTI Commission marks 4 years in operation
- UNESCO report observes that 85% of SL RTI Commission’s Orders during 2017-2019 have released information in full or in par
- Says this indicates strong pro-transparency attitude
Sri Lanka has been positively featured in the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) 2020 Global Report on the status of Right to Information (RTI) regimes worldwide, the RTI Commission of Sri Lanka said in a statement to mark the fourth anniversary since coming into
The UNESCO Report titled ‘From Promise to Practice’ has observed that 85% of the Commission’s Orders, during 2017-2019 have released information in full or in part, along with detailed reasoning on the importance of the right to know, indicating a strong pro-transparency attitude.
Marking four years of Sri Lanka’s RTI through islandwide advocacy engagement with public authorities and community based organisations (CBOs), the Commission reflected on difficulties faced due to COVID-19 in delivering information by public authorities with information officers having to cope with periodic lockdowns of offices and staff.
Consultations were held in Nuwara Eliya yesterday with the participation of the District Secretary, Nuwara Eliya M.B.R. Pushpakumara, officers of Divisional Secretariats and members of the public as well as on 18 and 19 February in Matara, with senior public officials and CBOs. Discussions were also held at the BMICH with senior academic and administrative staff of the Universities of Kelaniya and Colombo on 9 and 16 February.
The main focus of the consultations, themed as ‘Assessing Gains and Challenges on Four Years of Sri Lanka’s RTI’, was the further strengthening of Sri Lanka’s RTI Act and RTI regime.
Discussions centred on minimising obstacles in the practical working of the RTI Act due to the continuation of the global pandemic in the country, including the exploration of holding provincial appeal sittings of the Commission on a regular basis as well as holding virtual appeal sessions in order to minimise health risks.
Appreciating policy changes in the wake of the RTI Act and Commission decisions, including open publication of lists of Samurdhi beneficiaries and other welfare initiatives, release of policies, directives and circulars impacting on the general public and open disclosure of information on projects by municipalities and other state entities, the Commission has called for better proactive disclosure by public authorities.
It has severely warned against intentional flouting of the RTI Act by state officers, emphasising that notices of warning of prosecutions have already been sent to those bypassing official duties.
The statement was issued by Director General D.G.M.V. Hapuarachchi on Behalf of the RTI Commission of Sri Lanka.
The UNESCO report can be accessed at ifap.ru/pr/2020/n201207b.pdf.