The Right To Information bill, one of the key promises of the ‘Yahapalanaya’ regime prior to consecutive elections, has been shelved due pressure from officials and Ministers who insist that they should ‘safe guard the government’, high ranking government sources confirmed.
The Right to information bill which was drafted and had been presented to the cabinet has not been presented, due to the need to ‘water down’ the contents, significantly impacting the essence of the Act.
The draft which was endorsed by the Cabinet was considered among the best Acts for Right to Information globally.
According to sources Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe had informed delegates from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) at the Commonwealth meetings in Colombo few days ago that ‘some segments’ in Government are having ‘concerns’ about the ‘strength’ of the RTI draft and are calling for amendments to ‘safeguard’ the Government.
“The current draft prepared with the participation of the civil society was endorsed by the Cabinet and considered to be the 7th best RTI law if approved. It is a shame if it was watered down to suit the needs of those who are afraid of the draft.” a RTI campaigner told Colombo Telegraph.
However there were many issues pertaining to the inclusion of Non-Governmental Organisations into the category which should be compelled to provide information (NGOs receiving foreign and local funds are covered in the Cabinet approved bill). Many arms of ‘civil society’ movements and Non-Governmental Organisations were not in favour of their inclusion into the categories specified and have been silent on the delay of presenting the act.