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IMPLEMENTING THE RTI IN BANGLADESH: THE PRIMACY OF POLITICS Iftekharuz Zaman Executive Director Transparency International Bangladesh Central Information.

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Presentation on theme: "IMPLEMENTING THE RTI IN BANGLADESH: THE PRIMACY OF POLITICS Iftekharuz Zaman Executive Director Transparency International Bangladesh Central Information."— Presentation transcript:

1 IMPLEMENTING THE RTI IN BANGLADESH: THE PRIMACY OF POLITICS Iftekharuz Zaman Executive Director Transparency International Bangladesh Central Information Commission Annual Convention New Delhi, 13 September 2010

2 The Context Multi-stakeholder campaign –Civil society, media the driving force Bangladeshi tradition of civic engagement in democratic institutionalization The RTI Act 2009 –Comparable to similar laws/Acts elsewhere –Welcomed and criticized (exemption list) –Expectations overload

3 RTI - Primacy of the Political Passing of the Right to Information Act is an epoch-making incident in Bangladesh history … it will greatly help establish accountability and transparency in every sphere of society and the administration … the government will continue to work to safeguard the people's right to information … Sheikh Hasina Prime Minister of Bangladesh

4 RTI in Bangladesh: A political opening? The political will - how deep & genuine? Time will tell, but notably: –Not just because of Civil Society demand & for the CTG-period Ordinance –National consensus – electoral pledge of all major political parties (esp the ruling Awami Leagues specific pledge plus several supportive ones) –One of the acts that clearly received priority in the very first session of the 9 th Parliament

5 RTI in Bangladesh: Responsibility of political leaders No clear strategy yet –No true lead agency –Low inter-ministerial coordination –No action plan, reporting, monitoring Fledgling Information Commission –Independence, effectiveness, resources –New territory for the Commissioners – training & capacity building RTI-friendly Demand & Supply Side – not yet –Low proactive disclosure in public institutions –New to the demand side

6 RTI in Bangladesh: Responsibility of political leaders RTI-friendly IM System –No initiative to transform the archaic IM system to facilitate easy, dependable and secure archiving and retrieval Hardly any signs of transition from a culture of secrecy to openness –Ownership of the law & capacity –Challenging the mindset & inertia

7 RTI in Bangladesh: Responsibility of political leaders RTI-Friendly legal system –Review and analysis the applicability of the Act –Harmonization/reform of existing laws with the Act to remove any inconsistencies Remove Legal and other provisions that may make it difficult to enforce the RTI Act –Officials not clear about the dividing line –Few politicians consider it their responsibility Create the supportive institutions - courts and law-enforcement system

8 Can they deliver? Deficit in democratic practice - the Devil Greshams law in politics Politics as a business/investment Mutual tension bordering on hatred Bureaucracy-dependent political elite Low level of democracy, transparency, disclosure in political parties Zero-sum game – winner takes all

9 Dropping Tender -- Winner takes all ….

10 Its our turn …

11 The result could be … Democracy – off the people buy the people far the people

12 Challenges RTI will be resisted – from within –Politicians & public officials – for it reduces the scope of discretion & abuse of power –Business for vested interests in the triangular collusion –Media as a party in the collusion –NGOs for gains from non-disclosure –Civil Society for disunity and low capacity

13 Looking ahead RTI not in isolation from politics Rule of law/effective institutions – the Parliament, courts, law-enforcement, bureaucracy and oversight system Strengthen democracy within political parties – internalizing openness Democracy with the people - empower those to whom power is to belong, create stronger citizens voice & demand

14 Know your rights Control corruption

15 Thank you Tel: , Fax:


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