BANGLADESH: Revise draft RTI ordinance
Speakers at roundtable accuse government of purposefully including loopholes in ordinance to hinder right to information
The Daily Star
Friday, March 21, 2008
Speakers at a roundtable yesterday called on the government to revise the draft of the Right to Information (RTI) ordinance, saying that it has a number of flaws and inconsistencies.
They also urged the government to shorten the list that restricts the disclosure of information in certain cases.
They suggested deleting the Section 8 of the draft ordinance, saying that it would create obstacles to ensuring the right to information.
Mass-line Media Centre (MMC) and Article 39, an international organisation, jointly organised the roundtable at the IDB auditorium in the city, with human rights activist Dr Hameeda Hossain in the chair.
Barrister Amir-Ul Islam, former Awami League lawmaker Suranjit Sengupta, former BNP lawmaker MK Anwar, Prof Mizanur Rahman, Asst Prof Shameem Reza, Barrister Tanjib-ul-Alam and Chief Adviser to ATN Bangla Saiful Bari took part in the discussion.
The speakers said the draft RTI ordinance has many provisions, which would create obstacles to ensuring the right to information.
The government has consciously included such provisions in the ordinance to hinder the right to information, they alleged.
They also said there are some major loopholes in the draft, which need to be removed.
Hameeda Hossain said the government should ensure maximum disclosure of information and shorten the list that restricts disclosure of information.
Suranjit Sengupta said the government has formulated the ordinance without consultation with the people and political parties.
Formulating laws without the participation of political parties in the process would not bring any good, he added.
He also called on the government to start dialogue with the political parties without delay.
He also alleged that the government is now suppressing information rather than ensuring the right to information.
Mizanur Rahman called on the government to simplify the draft so that general people can easily understand it.
Monjurul Ahsan Bulbul, executive editor of the Sangbad, moderated the roundtable while Kamrul Hassan Monju of MMC gave the welcome address.
Date Posted: 3/21/2008