It has come to the attention of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) that in spite of earlier intimations that the RTI Bill had received the certificate of the Speaker on 7 June, the RTI Bill has in fact still not been certified and therefore does not have the force of law. This was confirmed upon reference to the latterly published official Hansard.
The RTI Bill was passed by MPs in Parliament on 24 June 2016. As a leading advocate for the enactment of comprehensive RTI legislation in Sri Lanka, TISL has closely monitored the passage of the Bill, and would urge the Speaker of Parliament to expeditiously certify the RTI Bill and conclude the legislative process. TISL is conscious of the time needed to accommodate committee stage amendments, but in light of the fact that nearly all amendments had been pre-drafted, TISL believes a lapse of over a month is unwarranted. In delaying the certification of the Bill, the entire process of rolling out the RTI infrastructure is put on hold, including the setting up of the RTI Commission, the appointment and training of Information Officers, Designated Officers and Commissioners, and the sensitization of the entire public service.
In strengthening the RTI Bill from its initial draft, TISL acknowledges the tireless efforts of the RTI drafting committee and civil society. Looking to the future, TISL remains concerned as to the commitment of human and financial resources to ensure the effective roll out and implementation of the RTI framework. However, as a preliminary matter of urgency TISL reiterates the need for the Speaker of Parliament to certify the Bill, or inform the public of the reasons for any further delay.