29 November, 2020

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A Submission – The Right To Information Bill 2015

By Chandra Jayaratne

Chandra Jayaratne

Chandra Jayaratne

Karu Jayasuriya Esq.

Minister of Democratic Governance,

Ministry of Public Administration, Provincial Councils,

Local Government, and Democratic Governance,

Independence Square,

Colombo 7.

Dear Mr. Minister,

A Submission Re; the Right to Information Bill 2015

I recognize with a cheer, the commitment with which the new government, led by the recently elected President, is moving towards enacting a Right to Information Act (RTIA). This enactment will meet a long felt rights based democratic governance need in Sri Lanka. I also recognize your personal initiatives, in networking with civil society, during the process of enactment and thank you for the opportunity given to make a submission.

I would be grateful, if the Cabinet Sub Committee and their advisors supporting the finalization of the draft of the Right to Information Act, will kindly review the local context in which the enactment will be implemented, especially bearing in mind the;

  • General level of Capability
  • The Cultural and attitudinal limitations
  • Work cultures, practices and follow up procedures, leadership commitments and resource limitations of public authorities
  • The state of development, pro-activeness and independence of media institutions
  • The state of development, pro-activeness and commitments of leaders of society, civil society organizations, activists of civil society and the citizens
  • The state of development, pro-activeness of public interest litigation in Sri Lanka

I firmly believe that, if the intent of the proposed RTIA is for the majority of the citizens of Sri Lanka to benefit by the use of the provisions of the RTIA, despite the under developed state of their socio-economic, educational and skill levels, in a context where the capability, commitments and resources limitations of the public authorities in Sri Lanka, it is essential that proactive disclosures led affirmative action processes, must be embedded via the same enactment, and be in place, ensuring that these processes are effective in practice within the said public authorities.

I therefore suggest that the Right to Information Act, be developed to suit the locally accepted cultures, attitudes, values, capabilities and practices and embody significantly important provisions, which ensure proactive disclosures led affirmative action within the public authorities, including provisions requiring;

“To require public authorities and every officer of such authorities, to be mindful and committed to and be required in the course of the conduct of the affairs of such authorities by such officials, to ensure that

1. all information, communications, public broadcasts and media releases and other communications in writing and in other communication mediums, consistently promote

a) Sri Lankan ethos,

b) socio –economic development, growth and prosperity of the nation and its people, including the public and private sector businesses, professions, corporate and un-incorporate entities,

c) local and foreign investments, import-export trade in goods and services, best practice and technology transfers,

d) education, academic and applied research

e) Human/vocational and livelihood development

f) national reconciliation and harmony,

g) ethno-religious harmony,

h) democratic rights, human rights,

i) equity, social justice, meritocracy and fairness in administration and governace

j) gender equality, empowerment of women, children and disadvantaged segments of society

k) effective, friendly, supportive and positive image led international and regional relations,

2. they collectively notify on a timely basis, accurate, comprehensive as necessary for public dissemination and in easy to understand languages of common use,

a) public information, notifications, alerts, early warning with expected consequential public actions, which will lead to prevent and / or minimize potential damage or affect adversely and impose risks, which the public in general or specific persons, groups or segments of society and their public and private property the lives, property , habitats , public infrastructure, may be exposed to on account of;

  1. any epidemic, diseases, health hazards etc,
  2. any actions, natural and / or planned or unplanned of any person or persons or groups of such persons engaged in unlawful and illegal trades and practices, actions, activities, ventures, gang actions, riots and insurrections,
  3. any animals, birds, insects, fish, pests, pets, and other living organisms
  4. any natural, environmental or accidental calamities, hazards and dangers

b) publish by way of white papers, green papers, discussion drafts and other publications and notifications, matters connected to public policy, laws, regulations and administrative procedures planed to be introduced, enacted or enforced

c) publish socio-economic, census, and research data, statistics and information of value for planning, investment, marketing, research, promotion and delivery of goods and services, operation of utilities and infrastructure

3. publish information for building public awareness, public education, debate, review, critique, and socio-economic development and as well as academic and allied research and data base development

I trust that the above submission will receive your kind and early attention

Yours Sincerely,

Chandra Jayaratne

CC: President of Sri Lanka,

Prime Minister,

Minister of Justice,

Leader of the Opposition,

Anura Kumara Dissanyake Esq.

Rev. Athureliye Rathana Thero.

Secretary, Ministry of Public Administration,

Advisor, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne,

Advisor, Mr. J. C. Weliamuna

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Latest comment

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    Let the first document to be available under the proposed act be INFAMOUS CFA signed by RW. Contents of which were not divulged to the parliament.

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