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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.

Revisiting the role of RTI for sustainable development

April 19, 2021 By: information Category: RTI Column

The Daily Star, April 16, 2021

Shamsul Bari and Ruhi Naz

We must not forget that we cannot bring good fortune for the people if our characters do not change! By rising above nepotism, corruption and self-deception, all of us have to be engaged in self-criticism, self-restraint, and self-purification.”

These are words Bangabandhu used to address the nation on December 25, 1974, underlining his views on good governance. Thirty-five years later, his daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, translated them into the Right to Information Act (RTI) 2009.

She quoted them in her own message to the nation, contained in a government document published in October 2012. Entitled “Commitment for Golden Bengal: National Integrity Strategy of Bangladesh”, it outlined her government’s vision to achieve Bangabandhu’s dream of Shonar Bangla..Read more

All three branches of government fall within its ambit

March 15, 2021 By: information Category: RTI Column

Daily Star, March 15, 2021

Shamsul Bari and Ruhi Naz

The deleterious impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the operations of the Right to Information (RTI) Act has been much discussed in the last one year. We drew attention to it in several of our columns. We also highlighted the positive role it played in enhancing public awareness about the importance of the law during a crisis period. In today’s column, we revert to its use in normal times.

Let’s look at three examples from neighbouring India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka—some more recent than others.

The Sri Lankan example stemmed from an RTI request filed by a local journalist, Chamara Sampath, who sought from the secretary general of the Parliament the list of Members of Parliament (MP) who had submitted Declaration of Assets and Liabilities during the years 2010-2018. The secretary general declined to release them, arguing that they were submitted confidentially by the MPs to the speaker, and he had no access to them. He also felt that the request infringed on the privileges of the Parliament.. Read more

 

The widening range of RTI use in Bangladesh

February 22, 2021 By: information Category: RTI Column

The Daily Star , February 15, 2021

Shamsul Bari and Ruhi Naz

Jamaluddin of Dinajpur had learnt at a training session that the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2009 of Bangladesh was enacted to provide a legal basis for citizens to exercise their rights as “owners of all powers of the Republic”. He reflected for some time on the concept of “legally enforceable ownership” of power by the people and looked for an opportunity to put it to the test. So, when he learnt that a local government official was notorious for his rude behaviour towards subordinates and members of the public, he decided to put a stop to this colonial practice. He submitted an RTI request to the concerned office, where this very government official was the Designated Officer (DO) to deal with such requests. Jamaluddin simply asked to know whether such misbehaviour was permitted under the rules of conduct of government officials. The official did not reply, and Jamaluddin appealed to the higher authority in Dhaka. This obliged the DO to reply, admitting that indeed misbehaviour was not permitted. Since then, the official’s behaviour reportedly changed for the better and Jamaluddin emerged as a hero to the public. Read more

How citizen engagement with RTI law is transforming lives

January 20, 2021 By: information Category: RTI Column

The Daily Star, January 15, 2021

Shamsul Bari and Ruhi Naz
During the construction work of a regional highway in Dinajpur, local inhabitants were increasingly bothered by the dust it generated. One of them, Mosaddekul Islam, fired by his new-found knowledge of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, asked the concerned public authority what measures were taken to ensure that no harm was caused to the local population by its operation. On receipt of his RTI request, the project engineer immediately directed the construction firm to spray the affected areas with water twice a day, which was promptly done.
This and similar other stories were shared last month among activists and fans of the RTI Act from all over the country. They had gathered for a virtual meeting to find out how the law had fared during the pandemic. It appeared that fear and devastation caused by the pandemic had spurred their appreciation of the tremendous importance of transparency and accountability in governance. Our earlier fears about the negative impact of the crisis on the operation of the law were largely belied… Read more