The Government has declared September 21 to 28 as the Information Week to make the public aware about their right to information and motivating them to use it for their benefit.
Addressing a media briefing held yesterday in this regard at the Finance and Mass Media Ministry, Additional Secretary (Development and Planning) of Finance and Mass Media Ministry J.M. Thilaka Jayasundara said that the government has declared the Information Week coinciding with the International Day of Right to Information (RTI) which falls on September 28 every year. The Ministry has planned to conduct various activities within the week with the assistance of USAID and civil society organisations.
The first international symposium on right to information will be held on September 28 at Nelum Pokuna with the presence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and Speaker Karu Jayasuriya at 10 am to 4 pm.
A street drama on RTI will be held in front of Fort Railway Station at 10 am on September 21 and in the Gampaha and Negombo areas on September 23. A short film series on the best practices of RTI in Sri Lanka will be exhibited from 4.30 pm at ‘Tharanganee’ Film Hall near National Film Corporation.
A media campaign on RTI will be held on September 22. A RTI Mobile clinic will be held in Jaffna on September 24 and the purpose of this event is to bring together communities in the Northern Province towards finding solutions to their grievances through access to information.
An All- island debate and essay competition to select RTI champs will be conducted on Septmeber25. A Public Talk on RTI’s Indian Experience will be held with the presence of Chief Information Commissioner Prof Madabhushi Sridhar and a socio political activist in India Aruna Roy from 4 pm to 6 pm at the main auditorium of Government Information Department.
A discussion forum for RTI trainers regarding best practices of South Asian Region will be held on September 27.The Additional Secretary further said that the Ministry is hoping to introduce an online system to ensure the right to information for the differently abled people since each and every citizen of the country has the basic right to access necessary public information.
Responding to a question by a journalist who inquired about the reason for not receiving certain information, Director General of Information Sudarshana Gunawardhana said that a RTI request should be made to the Information Officer of the Public Authority. The Information Officer should acknowledge the request as soon as possible. If the information can be provided immediately, it should be provided within 14 working days.
“If you are unsatisfied with the response of the Information Officer, you can appeal to the Designated Officer within 14 days of becoming aware of a such response. If you are unsatisfied with the response or non- response of the Designated Officer you can appeal to the Commission within two months of the response or non-response,” he added. He further said that only the information that is specifically mentioned in Section 5 of the Act cannot be revealed.
National Media Centre Director Jagath Liyanarachchi said that Sri Lanka has been ranked third place in the Global Right to Information Rating, which assess the country’s legal framework, and the best in South Asia.
Mass Media and Finance Ministry Director (Media) K.P. Jayantha, Assistant Secretary (Development) participated.Sudharma Karunarathna also