RTI bill presented in Sri Lankan Parliament

Sri Lanka’s much-awaited Right to Information (RTI) Bill was tabled in Parliament fulfilling an election promise of the Sirisena government.

  • The bill’s presentation had been delayed as the Northern Provincial Council had failed to pass the proposed draft in the Council on time.
  • The RTI was a key election pledge made by the Opposition coalition now in power when they challenged the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential election held in January 2015.
  • Rajpaksa was defeated by Maithripala Sirisena in general elections last year.
  • The Cabinet had approved it in December and thereafter was referred to the nine provincial councils for approval.
  • Rejection by the provincial councils would have meant the requirement for it to be passed by two thirds majority in Parliament.
  • Three of nine councils have approved the draft subject to amendments, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said on Wednesday.
  • The Bill provides for the establishment of a Right to Information Commission and the appointment of information officers among other things to uphold the people’s right to know.
  • The civil society activists who were responsible for drafting the legislation said they would ensure an Act of the highest quality to guarantee the RTI.

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