No Right to In­for­ma­tion

Southasia - - -

The bill on ‘Right to In­for­ma­tion’ pre­sented by UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jaya­suria was re­jected by the Sri Lankan Par­lia­ment dur­ing a vot­ing ses­sion last month. How­ever, im­me­di­ately af­ter­wards the gov­ern­ment promised to draft a very sim­i­lar bill which it as­sured will be

pre­sented soon.

Talk­ing to the me­dia, En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter and Cab­i­net Spokesper­son Anura Priyad­har­shana Yapa said the gov­ern­ment had no in­ten­tion of re­ject­ing the pri­vate mem­bers’ Bill pre­sented by Mr. Jaya­suriya but would study it fur­ther and in­cor­po­rate the non­con­tro­ver­sial and pro­gres­sive clauses in the new Bill.

He said the gov­ern­ment was al­ways pre­pared to strengthen free­dom of ex­pres­sion, me­dia free­dom and right to in­for­ma­tion. “We have been dis­cussing the is­sue of right to in­for­ma­tion for a long time. The gov­ern­ment ex­pects to dis­cuss this with all the stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing the me­dia, civil so­ci­ety, and po­lit­i­cal par­ties and we will in­cor­po­rate their sug­ges­tions in the new Bill,” the min­is­ter said.

The spokesper­son also said that the ap­proval of the Bill was re­jected be­cause Jaya­suriya had pre­sented it without dis­cussing it with the other party lead­ers first. Crit­i­ciz­ing the re­jec­tion, South Asian Me­dia Com­mis­sion’s (SAMC) Pres­i­dent Ku­mar Ketkar said, “In the light of Sri Lanka’s rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion on Civil and Po­lit­i­cal Rights and the pre­vi­ous agree­ment with all other SAARC mem­ber states about the need for such leg­is­la­tion and the for­mu­la­tion of this bill sev­eral years ago with the stated in­ten­tion of the then gov­ern­ment to leg­is­late, this de­feat of the RTI bill is a highly ret­ro­gres­sive step for Sri Lanka.” ◆

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