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Documentary on Information as Right: use of RTI Act by civil rights activists.

July 26, 2020 By: information Category: RTI Column

 

Documentary on Information as Right: use of RTI Act by civil rights activists- Click for Watch.

More citizens are exercising their right to information. We must keep it up

September 16, 2021 By: information Category: RTI Column

The Daily Star, Sep 15, 2021

Shamsul Bari and Ruhi Naz

The International Right to Know Day will be commemorated on September 28. By adopting Right to Information (RTI) or Freedom of Information (FOI) laws, governments recognise their citizens’ power to demand transparency and accountability about their work. Bangladesh enacted the Right to Information Act in 2009. How did that law fare last year?

It is difficult to provide a clear answer to the question. Research has shown that such a law does better in countries where an active coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) collaborate in its promotion. Such a coalition has yet to come together in Bangladesh. The CSOs engaged in promoting the law seem more inclined to work on their own, rather than to coordinate their efforts and share their experience and knowledge. As a result, the prospects and challenges of the law remain largely unknown, contributing to a lack of collective efforts to find remedial measures…Read More

How RTI regimes are faring in South Asia

August 19, 2021 By: information Category: RTI Column

The Daily Star, August 14, 2021

Shamsul Bari and Ruhi Naz

The Covid-19 pandemic will be remembered for the colossal chaos it caused to governments as they grappled—and continue to do—with its catastrophic onslaught affecting lives and livelihoods across the globe. And as governments bristled at public outcry against their inept handling and clamped down on critics, the gap widened between those who govern and those who are governed.

The crisis has shown that public distrust of governments is less pronounced in countries where a Right to Information (RTI) Act facilitates easy sharing of information. The situation is reversed where this is not the case..Read More

Only ‘We, the People’ can unleash the full potential of RTI law

July 17, 2021 By: information Category: RTI Column

The Daily Star, July 15, 2021

Shamsul Bari and Ruhi Naz

Bangladesh has long been known for the political activism of its citizens, ready to fight for their rights and defend their freedom. The creation of the country in 1971 is a testimony to that. Now—in an age when institutions of representative governance are in fast decline both globally and locally—is the time for us to seize what the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2009 offers as an alternative to continue that tradition.

Our first job is to convince the upper echelons of our society, who have largely ignored the law so far, that without their participation its full potential will remain untapped. Since its adoption 12 years ago, the law has been kept alive mainly by ordinary citizens. With the help of RTI enthusiasts and some committed NGOs, they have demonstrated, however sparsely, the power of the law to initiate positive change in governance. To go beyond and make higher gains, we need the participation and leadership of people who are more knowledgeable about the inner workings of the government and better equipped to understand the intricacies of the law and its use…Read More

Finding a balance between official secrecy and citizens’ right to information

June 20, 2021 By: information Category: RTI Column

The Daily Star, June 15, 2021

Shamsul Bari and Ruhi Naz

“We see all governments as obscure and invisible,” said Sir Francis Bacon, English philosopher and statesman, in 1605. Governments should work behind the scenes, beyond public view, he felt. And this is how the British Government worked till the dawn of the 21st century, when Britain’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was adopted in 2000.

The UK was late to the party, with other western nations having forged ahead with the adoption of FOIAs (Sweden as early as 1766). The US came two centuries later in 1966 and scores of other countries adopted theirs since then, until it became embarrassing for the UK not to follow suit. Political parties extolled the virtues of freedom of information while in opposition, but did little to advance it when in power. Government and the bureaucracy found it hard to abandon…Read More