Colombo (Agenzia Fides) - Sri Lanka’s upcoming 69th independence commemorations, which will be celebrated on February 4, will be of special value to the island’s media, if the new law on the Right to Information (RTI) will enter into force on this date.
Over 20 journalists and media workers have been killed in the last decade.
According to information sent to Fides, the Act itself dates back to over two decades. Its first imprint was in the 1998 Colombo Declaration of Media Freedom and Social Responsibility. In 2004 the drafting of the Freedom of Information Bill was initiated. It was tabled in parliament but could not be taken up for a vote since the government was ousted.
Finally this year, June 24, the RTI Bill was finally passed by the parliament. But there is still a long way to go. Despite the obstacles, officials at the two institutions are moving ahead, with the aim of announcing soon that by February 4 next year, Sri Lankans can for the first time submit RTI requests. "With this Act, politicians will have to think not twice, but thrice before they act, because the general public now has the right to seek and obtain information legally and the government is duty bound to give such information" said the Communications Media experts in a statement. For the Act to function efficiently, an attitude shift is required in the way public officials work, from being opaque to being transparent. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 19/12/2016)