Right to Information activists today called on the government to enact the Right To Information bill encompassing, private companiess and Non Government Organisations (NGO), within the definition of ‘information required by the public’, in order to ensure proper potency of the legislation.
They said that certain NGO’s and Private Companies which have direct links to public information have not been included in the bill and instead only “public bodies’ have fallen within the definition of those required to provide information.
Earlier, the Colombo Telegraph revealed a major scandal involving the Centre for Policy Alternatives ( CPA), which had misused donor funds.
Despite assurances of a forensic audit the CPA is yet to provide the details of the investigation to the public.
“It is essential to ensure that the right to information applies to all organisations, corporate or non-governmental, which are conducting public business or affect the rights of any Sri Lankan.” Senior Legal Counsel for ARTICLE 19, David Banisar, told Colombo Telegraph.
“The private sector interpretation should be broader, it should be applied for the private sector and non-government organization (NGO) sector too.” says Uvindu Kurukulasuriya. “Other jurisdictions which have enacted the law, such as Nepal, Indonesia and South Africa have specific articles referring to NGO’s and private organisations and the right of the public to request for information possessed by them, The RIT Acts in Bangladesh and Indonesia covered both sectors. South Africa has a better version.” Uvindu Kurukulasuriya, the Editor of the Colombo Telegraph told The Nation last week.
The Law enacted in Bangaldesh includes “any body which contracts with the government, in a broad and inclusive definition of ‘authorities’ which fall under the act.
We publish below the relevant section of the existing legislations;
Definition: Unless the subject or context otherwise requires, in this Act:
(a) “Public Body” means the following body and institution list:
(4) Institution or foundation established by the law, public service.
(5) Political Party or organization registered under the preventing law.
(6) Body Corporate under the full or partial ownership or under control of the Government of Nepal or such body receiving grants from the Government of Nepal.
(7) Body Corporate formed by a Body established by the Government of Nepal or the law upon entering into an agreement,
(8) Non-Governmental Organization/Institutions operated by obtaining money directly or indirectly from the Government of Nepal or Foreign Government or International Organizations/Institutions,
(9) Any other Body or Institution prescribed as Public Body by the Government of Nepal by publishing notice in the Gazette.
(3) Public Agency means an executive, legislative, judicative and other agencies whose function and main duties are related to the organizing of the state, where part or all of its funds originate from the state budget and/or the regional budget, or a non-governmental organizations that part or all of its fund originate from the state budget and/or the regional budget, the contribution from the people and/or from overseas sources.
Public Information to be supplied by a non-governmental organization under this Law are the principle and the objectives;
(a) the program and activities of the organization;
(b) the name, address, composition of the management, and the alterations thereto;
(c) the management and use of fund originating from the state budget and/or the regional budget, contributions from the people and/or from overseas sources;
(d) the decision making mechanism of the organization;
(e) the decisions of the organization; and/or
(f) other information provided by the regulations of the law.
South Africa info on compliance
2. Definitions.⎯In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context,⎯
(b) “Authority” means⎯
(i) any organization constituted in accordance with the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh;
(ii) and ministry, division or office established under the Rules of Business made under article 55(6) of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh;
(iii) any statutory body or institution established by or under any Act;
(iv) any private organisation or institution run by government financing or with aid in grant from the government fund;
(v) any private organisation or institution run by foreign aid in grant;
(vi) any organisation or institution that undertakes public functions in accordance with any contract made on behalf of the Government or made with any public organisation or institution; or
(vii) any organisation or institution as may be notified in the official Gazette from time to time by the Government;