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Sri Lanka RTI laws become world’s third best

Following the announcement of rules and regulations on Right Information Act by Minister of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Gayantha Karunatilleke last week, Sri Lanka has reached third best place in the RTI global ranking. Mexico and Serbia are in the first and second places.

Simultaneously Sri Lanka becomes the best in South Asia, by passing India says Canadian based RTI watch-dog Center for Law and Democracy (CLD).

“Countries often go up a few points on the RTI rating when they adopt rules and regulations. But this is an impressive jump up for a country which already had a very strong score, so both the minister and the commission deserve to be congratulated for their good work,” CLD’s Executive Director Toby Mendel was quoted in its website www.law-democracy.org.

When the bill was unanimously adopted in Parliament last August Sri Lanka was in the seventh place of global ranking and then dropped in to the ninth place. However, the new regulations of the act has added ten more points to Sri Lanka which brought it to the third best place in its global ranking.

The rules and regulations were gazetted last week by the Minister in concurrence of the RTI Commission in Sri Lanka.

DFT 15 8The implementation of the act was commenced on February 3rd and countrywide public authorities had received more than 300 RTI applications on the first working day of the week.

“This is a significant achievement for Sri Lanka. And also this is just a beginning of a long journey. We will do our best to establish good governance and democracy in this country,” Minister Gayantha Karunatilleke said.

Following is the announcement by the Centre for Law and Democracy found at www.law-democracy.org

On 3 February 2017, just on the deadline for this, the government of Sri Lanka published a set of Regulations and Rules under the Right to Information Act in the Official Gazette. The combined effect of the Regulations (adopted by the Minister of Parliament Reforms and Mass Media) and the Rules (adopted by the oversight body, the Right to Information Commission) was to add a full ten points to Sri Lanka’s already strong score of 121 points out of a possible total of 150 on the RTI Rating. With its new score of 131 points, Sri Lanka boasts the third strongest legal framework for RTI in the world and the strongest in South Asia.

“Countries often go up a few points on the RTI Rating when they adopt rules and regulations”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “But this is a impressive jump up for a country which already had a very strong score so both the Minister and the Commission deserve to be congratulated for their good work.”

Some of the key improvements, from the RTI Rating perspective, introduced by the Regulations and Rules are as follows:

Public authorities are required to transfer requests to other authorities where they do not hold requested information.

The rules on fees have been clarified and are, for the most part, progressive.

Clear rules on open reuse of information have been introduced.

The power of the Commission to order public authorities to take structural measures to improve their general responses to requests has been clarified.
Public authorities are obliged to provide training to their information officers.

Sri Lanka now faces the challenging task of implementing its strong legal framework for the right to information. CLD calls on the Ministry, public authorities and the Commission to ensure that this happens, and notes that it remains willing to provide support for this process.

Source : ft.lk

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