Call to change existing Sri Lanka laws to better apply RTI
ECONOMYNEXT – Proactive disclosure is a key obligation of the Sri Lankan government under its new Right to Information (RTI) law and existing laws preventing publication of information from public authorities should be changed, a new study said.
The study by the think-tank, Verité Research, together with Democracy Reporting International (DRI), presents practical recommendations for the implementation of the RTI Act.
“The success of the Act will depend on how effectively it is implemented,” a statement said. “Sri Lanka has many progressive laws that are yet to be implemented.”
Verité Research and DRI said that although RTI supersedes all other laws, many existing laws prohibit the supply and publication of information obtained from public authorities.
“This can result in the bureaucracy withholding information from the public,” they said. “Hence, to ensure full compliance with the RTI Act, it is essential that these laws are amended to align with the Act. The default position of the bureaucracy should be one of openness.”
The study said that proactive disclosure is a key obligation of government under the RTI Act.
“The RTI Act creates obligations on public authorities to proactively disclose information to the public,” it said.
“This means that the public should be able to obtain current information on government services and spending without the need to file an RTI request. Regulations under the Act require public authorities to publish and disclose certain categories of information, such as their budgets, expenditures, organizational functions, and annual reports, at no cost to the public.”
Verité Research and DRI also said the process of drafting and passage of the RTI Act, involving widespread consultation with civil society, media and government officials, making it the third strongest in the world, should function as a blueprint for future legislation.
(COLOMBO, March 02, 2017)
Jehan Perera - Executive Director National Peace Council