The Information Commission, mandated to enforce the Right to Information Act and increase transparency and accountability in government and non-government agencies, is into five years of its existence.
The Right to Information Ordinance was passed under the military-backed caretaker regime in October 2008. After the Awami League government took office, it passed the Right to Information Act on March 29, 2009. The commission was formed on July 1.
bdnews24.com has organised a roundtable on the occasion, where commission officials, politicians, civil society members and citizens who have applied for information under the Act will take part.
The event will be held on Saturday from 10am to 1pm, and will be broadcast live on bdnews24.com and Ekattor TV.
bdnews24.com Editor-in-Chief Toufique Imrose Khalidi will moderate the discussion.
A bdnews24.com spokesperson said, “The Information Commission has done a lot of work, but it does not seem as though they have been able to meet expectations.”
“The commission’s creation was a big step. But even though the commission is independent on paper, administratively and financially they are dependent on the information ministry,” the spokesperson said.
“In light of this, we want to evaluate the commission’s work in the five years since its inception.”
With a ‘meagre’ manpower of 41 people, the commission resolved 299 complaints of refusal to provide information in five years.
It also resolved 274 complaints by issuing letters, without any hearing.
While there have been instances in which criminal cases have been filed based on information brought out by commission’s orders, there are also many instances where the order to release information has been completely ignored.
The number of information officers in various government offices is 15,482, and in NGOs 3,697.
But it appears that the enthusiasm created in the wake of passing the Right to Information Act has mostly disappeared.
According to the commission, in 2010 there were 25,410 applications for information, of which 25,335 were complied with.
The next year there were only 7,808 requests. In 2012 there were 16,475 requests and in 2013, there were only 11,722.
The preamble of the Right to Information Act states: “…if the right to information of the people is ensured, the transparency and accountability of all public, autonomous and statutory organisations and of other private institutions constituted or run by government or foreign financing shall increase, corruption of the same shall decrease and good governance of the same shall be established.”
Source: Bd news24