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.”
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +61 2 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries
IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific
IFJ on Facebook here