Operationalizing the RTI Act in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s Right to Information Act was unanimously approved by Parliament on 24 June 2016, following over 20 years of advocacy by civil society organizations and media groups. Its provisions came into full force on 3rd February 2017. It is currently ranked 3rd in the Global Right to Information Rating by the Centre for Law and Democracy in Canada. The law serves as a key entry point to strengthen transparency and accountability in government, address corruption, and increase trust between people and the state.
Sri Lanka’s challenge now, is to translate its law and regulations on RTI into action, so that the benefits of it will be felt by the people on the ground. The meaningful realization of RTI will depend on the ability of public authorities to provide information; the RTI Commission’s capacity to adjudicate complaints and ensure compliance of public authorities; and the eagerness of civil society, media and the public-at-large to use RTI. Innovation and technology play a critical role in accelerating this process.
This note aims to provide technical guidance for the establishment of a practical regime of transparency as envisaged by the RTI Act. The Guidance Note puts together a repertoire of possible solutions to various challenges Sri Lanka is likely to face, based on comparative experience in South Asia and other jurisdictions with a long history of implementing similar transparency laws.