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Archive for the ‘RTI Column’

A clarion call for civil society to make the RTI Act a success

December 22, 2020 By: information Category: RTI Column

The Daily Star,  December 15, 2020

Shamsul Bari and Ruhi Naz

Most countries of the world have moved in the past 50 years from the age-old practice of government secrecy towards making their work largely accessible by the public through Right to Information (RTI) or Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation. Despite this slow revolution, secrecy in government work remains a deeply entrenched tradition. Even in more mature democracies, governments remain ever ready to limit the operation of the law whenever possible. We saw this during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

This resistance is not difficult to understand. Governments do not like that their shortcomings or wrongdoings are discovered by citizens. RTI/FOI acts are instruments to make that possible. They arose from citizens’ rights movements, to the growth of consumerism, to distrust of the bureaucracy, to the struggle for press freedom, etc. They gave rise to public pressure on governments to adopt the law. Read More.

 

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

November 15, 2020 By: information Category: RTI Column

The Daily Star November 15, 2020
Shamsul Bari and Ruhi Naz
Reva Rani of Taraganj Upazila of Rangpur District was determined to bring electricity to her home. But, all her efforts, including payment of “speed money”, failed. Then she learnt about the Right to Information (RTI) Act from a group of NGO activists; she applied to the local electricity office for information on the process and cost of obtaining a connection. Her application and subsequent appeal went unanswered, whereupon she filed a complaint to the Information Commission. But before the complaint hearing the local electricity office called her in and gave her the information she sought. Read More.

We need an independent and neutral Information Commission

October 19, 2020 By: information Category: RTI Column

The Daily Star October 15, 2020
Shamsul Bari and Ruhi Naz
From its onset in early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has damaged trust in governments. As governments fumbled with different approaches, citizens’ distrust of them increased in tandem. Allegations of misinformation, disinformation and lack of information polluted the atmosphere.The chaos, however, gave hope to transparency enthusiasts that the experience would help governments realise the extraordinary importance of proper information sharing in democratic governance and hence the need for them to pay greater attention to proper implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Read More.

International Right to Know Day must generate serious reflections by all sides

September 17, 2020 By: information Category: RTI Column

The Daily Star, September 16, 2020
Shamsul Bari and Ruhi Naz
September is an important month for Right to Information (RTI) buffs all over the world. They undertake various activities during the month to commemorate the International Right to Know Day on September 28 with two key focus points. One, to remind citizens that the RTI Act provides them with a legal basis to find out if their government is managing the affairs of the state effectively, efficiently and honestly. And two, to remind governments that they have a duty of transparency and accountability towards their citizens, who are entitled to access nearly all information available within public offices. Read More.