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Right to Information in South Asia Rukshana Nanaykkaara Deputy Executive Director Transparency International Sri Lanka.

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Presentation on theme: "Right to Information in South Asia Rukshana Nanaykkaara Deputy Executive Director Transparency International Sri Lanka."— Presentation transcript:

1 Right to Information in South Asia Rukshana Nanaykkaara Deputy Executive Director Transparency International Sri Lanka

2 Right to Information in Sri Lanka NO Right to Information Law in Sri Lanka Article 10 of the Constitution of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Every person is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice (No restrictions on the article) Article 14(1) Every Citizen is entitled to the freedom of speech and expression including publication (subject to restriction)

3 Case Studies: Two Court Cases Fernando v The Sri Lanka Broad Casting Corporation and others Facts: 1994 the government media policy included the medias right to expose corruption and misuse of power widening the constitutional protection of freedom of information to include the right to information. A programme of Sri Lanka Board Casting Corporation was suddenly stopped based on a question of a non delivery of a promise by a Minister Petitioner challenged the decision to close down the programme based on Art 14 of the constitution

4 Decision of the Court Article 14 includes every form of expression but its protection may be invoked in combination with other expressed guarantees. (such as right to equality) It extends to and includes implied guarantees necessary to make the expressed guarantees meaningful Thus it may include the right to obtain and record information, may be by means of oral interviews. (court did not say Right to Information is part of Freedom of Expression)

5 Environmental Foundation Ltd v Urban Development Authority State own land which was a recreationary place for the public was given to a pvt company without the knowledge of the public An environmental organisation challenged the decision of the government based on public trust doctrine

6 -People do have a right to know about the dealings of the government -Public property cannot be given out without the knowledge of public Decision of the Court

7 Value for Money Audit Project- Project by TISL ~For a realistic assessment on tsunami recovery process ~ No comprehensive VFM was done in Sri Lanka before ~Involved obtaining information in the recovery process in relation to construction, financing etc.

8 Importance of RTI in Tsunami Recovery Process ~ Sudden flow of a large amount money, goods and services can lead to Corruption, mismanagement and waste These can lead to Corruption, mismanagement and waste

9 Results of Non availability of RTI - People dont know how much was spent on newly built facilities -No proper details about Financial Aid received -Huge sums of money is missing -People are living in sub-standard facilities

10 Current Status Draft Laws Civil Society Draft The Freedom of Information Bill 2003 The Recent Draft prepared by the Law Commission of Sri Lanka Draft State Media Policy - Refers to the Right of citizen to receive and gather information for the proper functioning of the society

11 1 ~ The Current Security Situation If you criticize the government you are against the WAR Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places for media personals in the world - the negative impact – No freedom and free media for people to obtain correct information Politicization and state Capture created a culture of secrecy

12 T H A N K Y O U


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