A top United Nations official has urged South Asian nations to fast track the implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) legislation, highlighting that even though countries such as Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan have taken concrete steps towards strengthening the access to information, the fact that these countries were dragging the legislation’s implementation was disappointing.
UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, Magdy Martinez Soliman in an exclusive interview with the Colombo Telegraph said, “there has been progress in matters of access to information with some acts been passed and bills been tabled, but the implementation is trailing behind.”
“A lot of work needs to be done,” Soliman said, while adding that the progress in matters of access to information in Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan as well as the efforts taken by Maldives were all very noteworthy.
He also underscored the importance of transparency for South Asian countries. “When you look at the rankings that exist, South Asian countries are not in a good place in terms of transparency, and they have opportunities to do better,” he said during the sidelines of the 17th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Panama City.
Meanwhile, bringing an end to a two month long delay, President Maithripala Sirisena on Thursday appointed former Chairman of the Appeal Court Judge A. W. A. Salam and activist Dr. Selvi Thiruchandran to the Right to Information Commission of Sri Lanka. Accordingly, the five member commission which will be chaired by Mahinda Gammanpila, will also include Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena and Somapala Punchihewa.
The Right to Information Act which was passed in Parliament this year, is scheduled to come into effect from February 4, 2017. ( By Munza Mushtaq )