RTI Ordinance in Bangladesh: Speakers tell seminar on Right to Know Day, 2008

Author's name: 
AHM Bazlur Rahman-S21BR
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Speakers at a seminar on 28 September, 2008 called on all to extend cooperation in implementing the Right to Information (RTI) Ordinance 2008 for the greater benefit of the countrymen.

Welcoming the council of advisers’ approval to the much-awaited ordinance, they said there are several loopholes in the proposed ordinance, which need to be closed in order to ensure maximum disclosure of information.Newly floated Right to Information Forum organised the seminar titled ‘Right to Information: Why at this moment?’ at Brac Centre Inn in the city to mark the International Right to Know Day, which will be observed worldwide on September 28.

The right to information is a constitutional right backed by the UN and the approval of RTI Ordinance is a step towards realising this right, said Mahbubul Alam, a former information adviser who attended the programme as the chief guest.Pointing out that there are many loopholes in the proposed ordinance, he said the ordinance covers up to upazila level, not up to union parishad level.

“We will bring these points to the attention of the elected government,” he said, urging all to continue the movement for the right to information.Terming the right to know the mother of all rights, the speakers demanded that a provision protecting the whistleblowers be included in the RTI law.

AK Mohammad Hossain, joint secretary of the law ministry, said the RTI legislation should have nine guiding principles including maximum disclosure of information, obligation to publish information, open governance, restricting the exemption instances, facilitating access to information and protecting the whistleblowers.

Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh, moderated the seminar presided over by Shaheen Anam, convenor of RTI Forum and executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation which has been working for the enactment of the RTI act.“All of our efforts should now be aimed at proper implementation of the RTI ordinance so that general people benefit from it,” Shaheen Anam said and hoped that the next elected government will endorse the legislation in parliament.

After the ordinance is implemented, corruption will decline gradually and the transparency and accountability will help brighten the country’s image, she said.In his keynote paper, Barrister Tanjib-ul Alam said there are provisions in most existing laws, which support the right to information, but these provisions are not being used.Prof Asif Nazrul, Prof Nazrul Islam, chairman of University Grants Commission, and Badiul Alam Majumder of Shushashoner Jonney Nagorik also spoke at the seminar. Ref: The Daily Star

Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication(BNNRC) is a member of Right to Information Forum.

AHM. Bazlur Rahman-S21BR, Chief Executive Officer, Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication(BNNRC)
& Member, Strategy Council, UN-Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UN GAID), House: 13/1, Road:2, Shaymoli, Dhaka-1207
Post Box: 5095, Dhaka 1205 Bangladesh, Phone: 88-02-9130750, 88-02-9138501, 1711881647 Fax: 88-02-9138501-105

E-mail: ceo@bnnrc.net, bnnrc@bd.drik.net, www.bnnrc.net

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