27 October 2008

Alert

ARTICLE 19 welcomes new right to information law


(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is a 24 October 2008 ARTICLE 19 press release:

Bangladesh: Right to Information Law Welcomed

ARTICLE 19 very much welcomes the publication, in the official "Bangladesh Gazette" on Wednesday, 20 October, of the Right to Information Ordinance, No. 50 of 2008. This is a progressive and much-needed piece of legislation that should make an important contribution to transparency and democracy in Bangladesh. At the same time, we note that a number of the concerns we raised in our March 2008 analysis of a draft version of the Ordinance have still not been addressed.

Some of the most positive aspects of the new Bangladesh Right to Information Ordinance include its wide application to all information held by all public bodies, improved rules on payment of fees for access to information, the fact that the new law overrides inconsistent secrecy legislation and the wide promotional role allocated to the Information Commission, which now also has greater independence.

At the same time, ARTICLE 19 still has some concerns, including the following:
- The right of access is still limited to citizens, instead of applying to everyone.
- The proactive publication obligations are too limited, both as to the scope of information covered and as to the means of dissemination of this information.
- The regime of exceptions remains too broad. It contains exclusions (security and intelligence bodies) and exceptions which are not legitimate, it lacks a consistently high standard of harm and the rules allowing provision of information in the public interest has actually been removed.
- It fails to provide protection for good faith disclosures pursuant to the law, or protection for whistleblowers.

ARTICLE 19 and partners encourage the Government to include the framing of rules under the law as an integral part of its implementation plans and address weaknesses toward creating an efficient regime.

ARTICLE 19 Executive Director, Dr, Agnès Callamard, noted, "It is essential that the process of rule-making should include the participation of civil society in Bangladesh, journalists, potential users of the law and advocates for free expression."

Updates alert on Bangladesh's Right to Information Law: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/97641



Source

ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression
6-8 Amwell Street
London
EC1R 1UQ
United Kingdom
info (@) article19.org
Fax:+44 20 7278 7660
Bangladesh

IFEX members working in this country 1

 
More from Bangladesh
  • No Place for Criticism: Bangladesh Crackdown on Social Media Commentary

    This report documents abuses under section 57 of the ICT Act to warn that any new law should protect rights, not be used to crack down on critics.

  • Freedom on the Net 2017: Bangladesh

    Regulators blocked 35 news websites largely favouring the opposition, and launched a raft of punitive measures against one outlet for spreading rumors which it had actually debunked

  • "We Don't Have Him": Secret Detentions and Enforced Disappearances in Bangladesh

    Since 2013, law enforcement authorities in Bangladesh have illegally detained scores of opposition activists and held them in secret without producing them before courts, as the law requires. In most cases, those arrested remain in custody for weeks or months before being formally arrested or released. Others however are killed in so-called armed exchanges, and many remain “disappeared.”

 
More from Asia & Pacific
  • TRUTH VS MISINFORMATION: THE COLLECTIVE PUSH BACK

    SOUTH ASIA PRESS FREEDOM REPORT 2018-2019

  • The Campaign for Justice: Press Freedom in South Asia 2013-14

    Journalism in South Asia is far from an easy profession, as the 12th annual review of journalism in the region "The Campaign for Justice: Press Freedom in South Asia 2013-14" portrays. But this year's report also tells the story of the courage of South Asia's journalists to defend press freedom and to ensure citizens' right to information and freedom of expression in the face of increasing challenges to the profession and personal safety.

  • THE STORIES WOMEN JOURNALISTS TELL: Women in Media in South Asia

    The report is the first created by the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) looking specifically at the experience of women journalists in the South Asia sub-region