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Calls to action or awareness building for specific RTI issues.


A two-day capacity building workshop concluded at Cultural Hall Kargil, today.  The workshop was organized by J&K RTI Movement and Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative.  Yesterday the workshop was inaugurated by the Chairman and Chief Executive Councilor Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Kargil, Haji Mohammad Haneefa Jan. Noted activists from Delhi and Kashmir, Venkatesh Nayak, Manisha Chaheri and Dr Ghulam Rasool were present on the occasion.  The activists interacted with the local activists and discussed various issues related to district Kargil.  The representatives of Student Educational Movement Kargil (SEMOK) and Youth Action Committee also attended the workshop. Ventakesh Nayak (CHRI) and Dr Ghulam Rasool (J&K RTI) gave a presentation on Right To Informa...Read more
Posted By : Saine
Being an RTI user or activist in India is fraught with dangers. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an NGO based-out of New Delhi, has compiled data of the number of individuals who have been allegedly attacked and harassed for seeking information under the RTI Act since its implementation in 2005.   See more : http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/four-charts-show-it%E2%80%99s-not-safe-be-rti-activist-india-34091...Read more
Posted By : Saine
The director-general (DG) of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Government of India, has declared that the bureau cannot revise the new template for capturing the number of murders of right to information (RTI) users, social activists, whistleblowers and mediapersons separately, in addition to the instances of grievous hurts, separately, so that these could be counted as human rights violations. The DG, NCRB, who is a serving officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS), said this in reply to a letter written by Baijayant (Jay) Panda, Member of Parliament (MP) in the Lok Sabha from Odisha. Currently, there is no way of differentiating the thousands of other murders from these attacks on human rights activists. Panda had simultaneously suggested that such information be passed on to the ...Read more
Posted By : Saine
Job Description: Right to Information Campaigner / Researcher Access Info Europe, an international human rights organisation specialising in the right of access to information, based in Madrid, is looking for a researcher and campaigner to work on projects to promote the right of access to information across Europe, both at the national and EU levels. This is position is for someone who already has relevant work experience, particularly in the fields of democratisation, governance, and human rights work. The successful candidate will engage in the full range of Access Info Europe’s advocacy activities, with responsibilities including managing projects and campaigns, conducting research and analysis, developing advocacy materials, working with partners across Europe and globally, mee...Read more
Posted By : Saine
Dear all, Readers will remember the heated debate that took place inside and outside Parliament during the budget session earlier this year, on the proposals to amend the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2011 (WBP Act). The WBP Amendment Bill approved by the Lok Sabha and now pending consideration in the Rajya Sabha seeks to amend the WBP Act substantially apart from rectifying some typographical errors.   In May I had circulated critical comments on these amendment proposals arguing: "if the Whistleblower Act amendments go through, it might be easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than to get a whistleblower complaint inquired as it will have to pass through 32 tests."The Cabinet Note attached to the WBP Amendment Bill only proves this allegory (see attachment).   ...Read more
Posted By : Saine
Parliament enacted the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (RFCTLARR Act) in September 2013. The Government of India (GoI) enforced this Act fully on 01 January, 2014. This law repealed the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 under which the Central and State Governments acquired land for public purpose. By an Ordinance issued on 31st  December, 2014, GoI made several amendments to the RFCTLARR Act. One major aspect of these amendments was the inclusion of all 13 laws listed in the 4th Schedule within the RFCTLARR Act for the twin purposes of calculating and paying compensating persons whose lands are acquired for “public purpose” as defined in the Act and also for ensuring their rehabilitation and resettlement (if they...Read more
Posted By : Saine
The right to information bill in Sri Lanka has lost momentum, according to several persons following the legislation that the new government said would pass in the first 100 days. Political attention has turned to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution concerning the election system. The RTI bill “was presented and approved by the Cabinet but the Government is hesitant to table it at Parliament in case it is defeated and a momentum against the government is generated as s result,” according to one source close to the debate who added, “As far as we know the government is keen to enact the Bill and we still continue to pressure the government to do so as soon as possible.” An article by Lionel Guruge in The Sunday Leader says, “During its inception, the RTI bill was the topic o...Read more
Posted By : Saine
The RTI is virtually being strangled to death by deliberate delays in appointments. If you find a law uncomfortable, even one that you supported and passed, what should you do? Repealing it would not be politically smart; amending or diluting it will give ammunition to your critics. So the best strategy is to strangulate it, softly and steadily, until it is rendered lifeless and ineffectual. Something like this is happening to the Right to Information (RTI) Act under the current government. Passed with much fanfare in 2005, the RTI Act was path-breaking and considered a major step forward in encouraging transparency in governance. It was exceptional also because it came about as a response to demands from the ground, from civil society groups that had demonstrated the importance of such ...Read more
Posted By : Saine
Last week, upon being requested by a section of the family of the leader of the Indian movement for independence, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, to make the government’s secret files on him public, the Prime Minister, who was visiting West Bengal, is reported to have said, “It was the nation’s duty to so do”.[i]   Strangely, neither the website of the PM’s office, nor that of any other government department has put out any official report of this conversation, unlike last month’s much publicised meeting of the PM with other members of Netaji’s family in Germany.   Except for two pictures of the Kolkata meeting with the PM tweeted by the Press Information Bureau, all media reports were based on statements made by some members of the Bose family about the “assurance” g...Read more
Posted By : Saine
      Dear all,One silver lining in the dark cloud that was the debate on the amendments to the Whistleblowers Protection Act (WBP Act) was the frequent mention made of the power of the right to information (RTI) and the numerous attacks on RTI users. Several MPs cutting across party lines made these salutary references. Even the Hon'ble Minister of State for Personnel who was piloting the Amendment Bill, justified the amendments as being necessary to further the cause of transparency and accountability and protection of persons combating against corruption though he did not mention how curtailing the scope of whistleblowing by 90% would help those very public causes.The National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) was referred to by one MP in the context of the attack...Read more
Posted By : Seema Choudhary
Dear all, The attachment to this email contains a companion article to my previous one circulated on 27th October, 2014 on the subject of Double Tax Avoidance Agreements and their curbing effects on access to information.   In this sequel I have tried to argue as follows:   1) While the OECD and UN Conventions only required secrecy to be maintained according to the laws of the Contracting State, Article 22(1) of the Mutual Assistance on Tax Administration Matters Convention (MATAMC) ups the ante by subjecting the information to the legal safeguards available for such information in the partner State which provided that information- and not what is available in the requesting State. Article 22(4) requires a State to take a clearance from the Partner State which supplied the inform...Read more
Posted By :
Islamabad: The state of transparency, accountability and governance has declined over the years in the country. According to a research study titled “Exploring transparency in Pakistan: A review of annual reports”, conducted by the Consumer Rights Commission of Pakistan (CRCP), it was found that a majority of surveyed federal public bodies and entities were not adhering to mandatory clauses of the Rules of Business 1973 regarding publication of annual reports and yearbooks. The study primarily focused on reviewing the availability of annual reports and information related to Right to Information (RTI) laws on websites of government ministries, divisions and departments and content analysis of these reports for the year 2012-13 in relation to key features of international best pra...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Dear all, The black money scandal India has reached an important milestone today thanks to the sustained interventions of the Petitioners and the interest taken by the Hon'ble Supreme Court. I have attached an analytical piece that looks at the Double Tax Avoidance Agreements regime and Government of India's (GoI) role under various political parties and alliances. For the sake of brevity I am only copying below my thesis and the sub-headings under which the article is divided.   In short my submission on the basis of my analysis is that DTAAs are being interpreted by GoI in a manner:   1) that curbs the independence of the judiciary by curtailing the plenary powers of the Supreme Court and the High Courts to call for financial information of citizens and other entities in India su...Read more
Posted By :
KATHMANDU, OCT 29 - Nepal has secured its space in the Steering Committee of the Freedom of Information Advocates' Network (FOIAnet), a global civic organisation crusading for the right to access information since 2002. Nepal's noted Right to Information (RTI) activist and journalist Taranath Dahal has been elected the member of the committee securing fourth highest votes. The seven candidates with the most votes cast by its members from across the globe form the FOIAnet Steering Committee. As the person with the most votes, RTI global leader Toby Mendel, Executive Director of Canada-based Centre for Law and Democracy becomes the Chair, for a second term, reads a statement issued by FOIAnet Secretariat. This is the first time that the network governing body gets direct representation fr...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
News Right to Information Timeframe set to propose revisions to RTI Act regulations Fathimath Aruma, Haveeru Online Oct 08, 2014 - 03:49 Information Commissioner Abdul Aziz Jamal Abu Bakr: Opportunity to propose revisions open until next Saturday. PHOTO/MAJLIS A timeframe has been set during which revisions can be proposed to regulations under Right to Information (RTI) Act. Information Commissioner Abdul Aziz Jamal Abu Bakr said on Wednesday that opportunity to propose revisions was open until next Saturday; and that revisions can be proposed via phone, email, or fax. The Information Commissioner said that he had provided media the opportunity to provide their input to the regulations, even before they had been compiled; and said that he had n...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
      Normal 0 false false false EN-IN X-NONE X-NONE ...Read more
Posted By : Amrita Paul
Info commission gets two new commissioners Staff Correspondent   The government yesterday appointed Nepal Chandra Sarker, former secretary of Information Commission, and Khurshida Begum, a professor of government and politics department of Jahangirnagar University, as information commissioners. President Abdul Hamid appointed the two under section 15(1) of the Right to Information Act 2009, reports BSS. The government will fix their rank and status, honoraria, allowances and other facilities, it added. The posts have been lying vacant since June 30. Meanwhile, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) expressed satisfaction over the appointment. In a statement, Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of anti-graft watchdog TIB, said the appointment will help expedite the informati...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
  August 2014 ISSUE 33 VOLUME 3  The present news alert provides a quick access to the news, studies, frequently asked   questions and reports on the state of Right to Information (RTI) in Pakistan  with a view to improve Governance by  promoting transparency and accountability in various government structures and departments.  This will also assist to keep the CSOs, concerned citizens and government departments updated with the latest initiatives and developments in the areas of RTI in Pakistan. It is circulated monthly, containing contributions from a range of RTI topics to draw the reader's attention to the issues and developments on RTI. ____________________ RTI Help Desk If you need any guidance or technical assistance to file an inform...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Dear SARTIAN members! Readers may remember the furore in the Rajya Sabha of Indian Parliament (Upper House) on 9th Julywhen an Hon'ble Member raised an issue of destruction of files of historical value as alleged in news reports published that day. Several members expressed their concern over this alleged files destruction. First, the Union Minister for Law and Justice denied that any file of historical importance was destroyed and the Government agreed to come out with a statement two days later. On 11th July, the Union Home Minister made a statement in the House denying that any files of historical significance were destroyed. He reported that 11,100 files containing an unspecified number of papers were destroyed between June-July, 2014 pursuant to the directions of the Prime Minist...Read more
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    Integrity Watch Afghanistan Kabul, Afghanistan  A brief on access to information law recently passed by the lower house of Afghan parliament   According to international conventions to which Afghanistan is a signatory and according to Article 50 of the Afghan Constitution, “Right to Know” or “Right of Access to Information” is a fundamental human right for every Afghan citizen. Playing an important role in the fight against corruption, the right to access information increases transparency, accountability, public participation, and paves the way for journalists prepare investigative reports that inform the public.   Afghan civil society organizations began the struggle to advocate for their right to information through a legal framework such as the Access to Inform...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Access to Information law was passed by the lower house of Afghan Parliament on 30th June, 2014 adding to another noteworthy achievement in the region.    Habibullah Muqbel (Advocacy Officer) from Integrity Watch Afghanistan (http://www.iwaweb.org/) reports "It is worth mentioning though some of the recommendations from Civil society were included in the final draft but considering the international standards, the current access to information law still needs improvements. The law is now in the upper house of the Afghan parliament  Integrity Watch Afghanistan will continue advocacy in the upper house of the Afghan parliament for further improvements in the current access to information law."       For more details please open the resource.    ...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
  May 2014 ISSUE 30 VOLUME 3  The present news alert provides a quick access to the news, studies, frequently asked   questions and reports on the state of Right to Information (RTI) in Pakistan  with a view to improve Governance by  promoting transparency and accountability in various government structures and departments.  This will also assist to keep the CSOs, concerned citizens and government departments updated with the latest initiatives and developments in the areas of RTI in Pakistan. It is circulated monthly, containing contributions from a range of RTI topics to draw the reader's attention to the issues and developments on RTI. ____________________ RTI Help Desk If you need any guidance or technical assistance to file an informati...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Dear all, This year we have once again focused on bringing some transparency in the functioning of the Union Cabinet, albeit post facto. Readers will remember that I had circulated agenda items placed before the Union Cabinet between 2009-2012. They are also available on our website at: http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=648&Itemid=567   After a lull in 2013 due to my long drawn illness, I have returned to this issue especially after some readers suggested that I continue with this intervention. The agenda items placed before the Union Cabinet at its meetings between January-February 2014 is attached.   While the Public Information Officer always supplied the information in the past, albeit late, this time he permitted only...Read more
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Dear all, The billion rupee question at the moment seems to be who will be Leader of the Opposition (LOP) in the 16th Lok Sabha. Retired Secretaries General of the Lok Sabha have expressed conflicting views based on their interpretation of relevant laws and directions of the Speaker. I have already shared with you my thoughts on the subject. As more articles are appearing on this issue in the media, I have delved a bit deeper into the subject and have put forward the following additional arguments in support of my view that the political party with the largest representation in the Lok Sabha which is not part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will and must be the Principal Opposition Party and consequently its leader, the Leader of the Opposition (LOP):   The pre-1998 situation...Read more
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Dear all, I have attached the e-copy of the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2011 as notified by the Government of India in the official Gazette. The text is also available on the website of the Department of Personnel and Training at: http://persmin.nic.in/DOPT/EmployeesCorner/Acts_Rules/TheWhistleBlowersProtectionAct2011.pdf   As the date of the gazette notification is 12th May, should we not celebrate this day as "Whistleblowers' Day" in India, every year henceforth?   Now that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government will be sworn in any day this week and they have promised accountability as a key measure of governance, we should monitor their actions to protect whistleblowers starting with Mr. Khemka and all others in civil service who have exposed wrongdoing.    Ma...Read more
Posted By : Amrita Paul
Dear all, A friend has raised a question about selection committees for the appointment of statutory authorities under various laws that require the Leader of the Opposition (LOP) in the Lok Sabha to be a member. With the Indian National Congress's (INC) abysmal performance in the recently concluded elections some sections of the media are floating the theory of "the 10% rule", i.e., only such leader will be recognised as LOP if his/her party has at least 10% of seats in the Lok Sabha. This is a canard for reasons given at the bottom of this email. But first, the query raised by my friend. Given below is a situation analysis of some laws regarding the appointment of crucial statutory bodies:   Central Information Commission: There will not be any problem in the appointment of the Info...Read more
Posted By : Amrita Paul
Dear all, The election results in India are out. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA), led by the Indian National Congress has been routed at the electoral hustings. The right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has been voted to power on the basis of about 31-36% voter support. The final vote share may vary as and when the Election Commission calibrates these figures after cross checking the information from all constituencies. Nevertheless the BJP may be able to form the Government on its own without depending upon the support of its allies as it is likely to cross the 50%+1 watershed in the Lower House of Parliament. The BJP admitted that it had not expected to win as many seats in some of the States. That candour speaks volumes about how much the ...Read more
Posted By : Amrita Paul
Dear all, A committee constituted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India's Central bank, has recently submitted its report after reviewing the governance of banks in India. This report is attached and also accessible at: http://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/PublicationReport/Pdfs/BCF090514FR.pdf I thank anti-corruption crusader P M Bhat for sending me the link to this report.   What is problematic with this report? While I am not competent to comment on the banking and financial issues discussed in this report, I find the Committee's attitude towards the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) very disturbing. The Report blames the RTI Act as one of the several external constraints on the governance of Public Sector Banks (see Section 2.7, page 33). The Committee has found that co...Read more
Posted By : Amrita Paul
  April 2014 ISSUE 29 VOLUME 3  The present news alert provides a quick access to the news, studies, frequently asked   questions and reports on the state of Right to Information (RTI) in Pakistan  with a view to improve Governance by  promoting transparency and accountability in various government structures and departments.  This will also assist to keep the CSOs, concerned citizens and government departments updated with the latest initiatives and developments in the areas of RTI in Pakistan. It is circulated monthly, containing contributions from a range of RTI topics to draw the reader's attention to the issues and developments on RTI. ____________________ RTI Help Desk If you need any guidance or technical assistance to file an informa...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
    March 2014 ISSUE 28 VOLUME 3  The present news alert provides a quick access to the news, studies, frequently asked   questions and reports on the state of Right to Information (RTI) in Pakistan  with a view to improve Governance by  promoting transparency and accountability in various government structures and departments.  This will also assist to keep the CSOs, concerned citizens and government departments updated with the latest initiatives and developments in the areas of RTI in Pakistan. It is circulated monthly, containing contributions from a range of RTI topics to draw the reader's attention to the issues and developments on RTI. ____________________ RTI Help Desk If you need any guidance or technical assistance to file an inf...Read more
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  February 2014 ISSUE 27 VOLUME 3  The present news alert provides a quick access to the news, studies, frequently asked   questions and reports on the state of Right to Information (RTI) in Pakistan  with a view to improve Governance by  promoting transparency and accountability in various government structures and departments.  This will also assist to keep the CSOs, concerned citizens and government departments updated with the latest initiatives and developments in the areas of RTI in Pakistan. It is circulated monthly, containing contributions from a range of RTI topics to draw the reader's attention to the issues and developments on RTI. ____________________ RTI Help Desk If you need any guidance or technical assistance to file an inf...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Dear all, Some of you might be following up on the results of elections held to five State Legislatures in India during the months of November-December 2013. The results are out throwing civil society and the political establishment into a tizzy since yesterday. The Indian National Congress which is the leading political party in the United Progressive Alliance that is running the Central Government has fared poorly in four of the five States where it contested elections. The results of the elections in the fifth State are awaited where this party is seeking reelection.   The single biggest feature of the election results in the State of Delhi (the national capital) is the stunning debut performance of the newest party on the block- the Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man/Person Party). Its co...Read more
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  Dear all, The DoPT has recently uploaded the second installment of guidelines for implementing the proactive disclosure obligations under Section 4(1)(b) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (1st attachment). These guidelines have been circulated to the States. Readers will remember that the DoPT constituted a Task Force in April 2011 to come up with Guidelines for implementing Section 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act. Civil Society Organisations and senior government representatives were part of this Task Force. The first set of guidelines was publicised in April this year (2nd attachment). The DoPT deserves to be congratulated for completing the long-pending work of the Task Force before the end of the year.   The latest set of guidelines focus on practical guidelines for disclosing infor...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
CHRI introduces a monthly news digest about RTI news in India through SARTIAN. We hope our readers and subscribers enjoys this too and discuss them.   Happy Reading!!...Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami
Afghanistan's civil society pushes the government for strong and clear access to information law. The press release for demands are attached....Read more
Posted By : Suchismita Goswami