‘Boosting RTI regime imperative to hold authorities accountable’

Experts and noted activists working for good governance in the south Asian countries underscored the expansion of right to information (RTI) regime to hold authorities accountable and to ensure people’s participation in governance.

Sharing that the south Asian countries face many similar challenges in the use of RTI, they viewed collaboration and network building in this sector could help whet knowledge and experience for effective RTI campaign.

Addressing a dialogue on ‘Challenges of RTI regime in South Asia’, Freedom Forum’s General Secretary Sanjeeb Ghimire opined that one of the pressing problems facing RTI is non-compliance of defined obligation by the public agencies.
Eminent RTI activist from India, Anjali Bhardwaj, said, “Unless citizens’ have access to information, democracy does not function well.” She shared that marginalized communities, who faced problems in India, were ensured rights with the use of RTI.

Executive Director at Manusher Johno Foundation of Bangladesh, Shaheen Anam, expressed that number of RTI applications needs to be increased in Bangladesh. All sides’ cooperation can boost RTI regime in south Asia, she added.

Similarly, Information Commissioner of Sri Lanka, Kishali Pinto Jayawardena, shared the struggle to bring RTI Act in Sri Lanka and informed that the Information Commission had issued thousands of orders in the past seven years to the government.

Chief Information Commissioner at National Information Commission, Mahendra Man Gurung, explained the challenges of RTI in Nepal as- high RTI illiteracy, non-compliance to RTI, non-cooperation from bureaucracy, reluctance of political parties, and the digital manipulation of information.

Executive Director at The Social Architects in Sri Lanka, Sherine Xavier, viewed culture of secrecy is major challenge of RTI. The RTI must be ensured to vulnerable people. Civil society has a significant role on popularizing RTI, according to her.

Moreover, working committee member of the National Campaign for People’s RTI from India, Amrita Johri, said RTI deeply reflects the health of democracy, so push back against RTI in the region could be taken as opportunity to work in unison.

Freedom Forum Executive Chief Taranath Dahal observed that RTI is lifeline of democracy. “The RTI movement must not water down, but be bolstered to make sure participatory democracy,” he said, urging experts and participants to work together for good governance with promotion of RTI.

The event was organized by Freedom Forum as part of the ongoing World Social Forum in Kathmandu.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *