No Right to Information
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
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.” ◆