A Right to Information Bill, providing for a Right to Information regime was first tabled in the People’s Majlis in 2007. The bill, however, failed to get the approval of the Majlis by one vote. A Right to Information regulation was enacted by a presidential decree in May 2008, which came into force in January 2009. In August 2008 a new constitution was ratified with a comprehensive bill of rights, which recognised freedom of information as a fundamental right. The same year the first ever multi-party election was held ushering in a new government, which submitted a Right to Information Bill, once again, to the parliament in November 2009. The bill was placed before the Social Affairs Committee for deliberation, where it remains now.
The current RTI regulation, which is administered by the Ministry of Home Affairs, is a substantial step forward in creating greater transparency. However, it is limited in its reach and scope. A Right to Information Act which, inter alia, covers the judiciary, legislature, the executive, and other state institutions is needed and will go a long way in promoting transparency and accountability in the Maldives. Equally, establishing and consolidating a culture of respecting the right to information is necessary for a vibrant democracy in the Maldives.
Transparency Maldives is implementing a Right to Information project in coordination with UNDP, with funding from UNDEF as part of it’s larger efforts to increase transparency and promote good governance. Establishment of an RTI legal framework and accompanying legal redress mechanisms, creating grassroots demand for transparency and accountability and strengthening the national access to information architecture through information technology are the main objectives of the project.
The Symposium on Right to Information is organised as part of this project to complement the larger advocacy and awareness building activities of the project. The specific objectives of the symposium are:
- to create awareness of RTI among policy makers, public officials, civil society and media;
- to facilitate international best practices and experiences sharing among policy makers, public officials, civil society and media; and,
- to create demand and enhance respect for RTI among policy makers, public officials, civil society and media.
Source: Transparency Maldives