RTI Act is one of our most powerful instruments to hold the government accountable.
Over the last two decades, most of South Asia has adopted right to information (RTI) laws, also known as freedom of information (FOI) or access to information (A2I) laws.
The Bangladesh Right to Information (RTI) Act 2009 is a unique piece of legislation. Most laws are largely founded on the concept of government responsibility to regulate citizen behaviour, but the RTI law establishes government accountability to its citizens.
Sri Lanka was the last country in South Asia to adopt the Right to Information Act (RTI) in 2017. For many of us who were involved in discussions with our Sri Lankan counterparts before adoption of the law, it is gratifying to note the progress it has made in these two years. There is much that we can learn from their experience and use in Bangladesh.
Competitive examinations are a long-standing and important fact of life for our youth entering public service. But few know that the Right to Information (RTI) Act of 2009 can play an effective role to ensure that these exams are transparent and fair.
There are obvious and big differences between the socio-economic and political conditions of Bangladesh and the US and the extent of their Right to Information (RTI) experiences.
Yet the RTI Act is hardly known for being put to use in significant numbers. It has so far worked mainly with the marginalised and disadvantaged communities because of the help of NGOs and activists. The educated and the middle classes are yet to be fired by the powerful reach of the law.
Unfortunately, citizens are yet to rise to the occasion and play a meaningful role to take the law forward. Demands for information are yet to pour into government offices in large numbers to test the system.