Right to Information Guiding Manual | Sunday Observer

Right to Information Guiding Manual

UNDP Technical Consultant, Chamindry Saparamadu-Secretary of the Ministry of Mass Media, Sunil Samaraweera
UNDP Technical Consultant, Chamindry Saparamadu-Secretary of the Ministry of Mass Media, Sunil Samaraweera

A guide book to strengthen and steady the Right to Information (RTI) in the country, named Guiding Manual was launched by the Ministry of Mass Media, early last week.

The manual would act as a guide for Information Officers to implement the Right to Information Act in the country. The manual was developed with technical support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Sri Lanka. Also, as part of UNDP’s ongoing support, a pilot project was undertaken to develop an online RTI application tracking system for RTI requests for the Central Environment Authority (CEA), with the broader aim of developing a central system accessible to all public institutions.

Sunil Samaraweera, Secretary to the Ministry of Mass Media, while acknowledging the help given by the United Nations Development Program(UNDP) disclosed that the last three-years have been spent in training the Government officials on the modus-operandi of the implementation of the Right to Information Act.

“Now, we are working to create awareness among the public on how they can exercise this fundamental right” he said.

In addition, steps have been taken to restructure the websites of the Vocational Training Authority and the Department of Agrarian Services in accordance with the guidelines and internationally acclaimed standards relating to proactive information disclosure according to the Right to Information.

Speaking of the RTI’s role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, Ms. Chamindry Saparamadu, an UNDP Technical Consultant on RTI stated “UNDP works to ensure inclusive and participatory governance and human development in-line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,”

“The right to information is a prerequisite to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as it enables the public to participate and advocate for meaningful change,”

The Right to Information has been a fundamental right and an essential component of a democratic society.

In Sri Lanka, the right to seek and receive information is a Constitutional Right guaranteed under Article 14A of Sri Lanka’s Constitution.

The Right to Information (RTI) Act, which came into full effect by 2017, provides the legal framework within which this fundamental right can be exercised. Unlike other laws that seek to increase the coercive or regulatory power of the State, the Right to Information Act seeks to empower people. Its primary purpose is to shift the paradigm of governance from secrecy to transparency. Hence, the Act provides a key entry point for strengthening transparency and accountability within the Government to address corruption and improve public participation in policy making.

The launch was attended by Piyathissa Ranasinghe, Former Director General of Right to Information Commission, Chulangani Perera, Director General of the Vocational Training Authority, Chulangani Perera, Director General of the Department of Agrarian Services,W.M.M.B. Weerasekara, and Director General of the Central Environment Authority., Hemantha Jayasinghe,