Sri Lanka’s Right to Information (RTI) global rating has jumped from 9th to 3rd place with the recent gazetting of the RTI Commission’s Rules on Fees and Appeals as well as the Regulations under the Act.
Issuing a statement today, the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD, Canada) which monitors the ratings of RTI laws around the world, said that this was ‘impressive.’ Commending the RTI Commission and Sri Lanka, Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD pointed out that “countries often go up a few points on the RTI Rating when they adopt Rules and Regulations.’ But this was a notable achievement for a country ‘which already had a very strong score’ globally, he said.
The RTI Commission comprises retired public servant Mahinda Gammanpila (Chair), well known RTI advocate Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, retired President of the Court of Appeal AWA Salam, Dr Selvy Thiruchandran and attorney S.G. Punchihewa
The Rules and Regulations added a full ten points to Sri Lanka’s already strong score of 121 points out of a possible total of 150 on the RTI Rating. Sri Lanka now achieves a new score of 131 points and boasts the third strongest legal framework for RTI in the world and the strongest in South Asia, going even beyond India.
The gazetted Regulations include the RTI Commission’s proposals to tighten proactive disclosure duties of Public Authorities bound by the Sri Lanka’s RTI Act, specify criteria for the appointments of information officers and explicitly allow all information obtained under the RTI Act to be reused.
The CLD has pointed to key improvements including that Public Authorities are required to transfer requests to other authorities where they do not hold requested information, clarification of the Commission’s Rules on Fees which are progressive and the introduction of the open reuse of information. The power of the Commission to order Public Authorities to improve their general responses to information requests as well as ensure that training are provided to information officers are further factors.
Sri Lanka now faces the challenging task of implementing its strong legal framework for the right to information. The CLD has called on the Ministry, public authorities and the RTI Commission to ensure that this happens.