Sri Lanka Government Rejects Right to Information Bill

The International Federation of

Journalists (IFJ) is dismayed to learn that a freedom of information law proposed

in Sri Lanka has been overwhelmingly

defeated by the government majority in the country’s parliament.

 

The Right to Information Bill,

presented by opposition United National

Party deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya on June 21, was defeated by a majority of

63 votes in the 225-member assembly of which President Mahinda Rajapaksa's United

People's Freedom Alliance holds a two-thirds majority.

 

The Bill seeks to provide free access

to official information, the establishment of a Freedom of Information

Commission and specifies the procedure for making request for information and the

grounds on which requests may be denied, reports said.

 

The government made undertakings in

2007 to a delegation of the Free Media Movement, an IFJ affiliate, that a

similar bill would be enacted at the end of the country’s bitter civil war.

 

The UNP had wished to present the

bill almost one year ago but the government requested that it be held back, as

the government would present a more comprehensive bill within six months.

 

“The right to information is a

fundamental democratic right, not a privilege of government,” the IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

 

“The decision by the Sri Lanka

government to block a bill designed to enshrine the right to information is an

ominous move where media freedom remains in serious peril.

 

“The IFJ urges the Sri Lanka

government to honour its promise and ensure a comprehensive Right to Information

Law is enacted without delay.”

 

 

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +61 2 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

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IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

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