UNP submits right to information bill

The main opposition UNP says it has submitted a bill to parliament seeking the right to information.

UNP member John Amaratunga said that the bill has been handed over to the Speaker of parliament Chamal Rajapaksa.

“We have now submitted the bill to the Speaker and now need his approval to put it in the order paper of parliament and subsequently debate it in parliament,” Amaratunga said.

He said that most opposition political parties in parliament are supporting the bill and its urgent implementation.

The UNP had earlier submitted the bill in 2010 and last year but it was rejected on both occasions by parliament.

However Amaratunga said the new bill has been amended following broad discussions with civil society and other groups.

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.

The government made undertakings in 2007 to media rights groups that a similar bill would be enacted at the end of the country’s bitter civil war but the bill was not submitted.

The UNP says the enactment of a freedom of information legislation is bound to help in preventing the rampant corruption in the country and empower the citizens. (Colombo Gazette)