1 February 2008


Two IFEX members offer analysis of new access to information act

(ARTICLE 19/FNJ/IFEX) - The following is a joint press release by ARTICLE 19 and FNJ:

Nepal: Right to Information Act Analysed

ARTICLE 19, Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) and FREEDOM FORUM (FF) released their analysis of the Nepalese Right to Information Act 2007 today. The adoption of the Act last year was an important step in giving practical effect to the Interim Constitution's guarantee of the right to information. The Act is generally a progressive piece of legislation. At the same time, we have several recommendations to bring the law into line with better international standards and practices.

The Right to Information Act grants every Nepali citizen the right to access information held by public bodies. We welcome, among other things, the fact that the Act specifically places an obligation on public bodies to respect and promote the citizens' right to information and provides for an independent National Information Commission.

Nevertheless, the Act has several shortcomings, including the following:
- It is limited in scope to citizens rather than applying to everyone.
- The information request procedures require applicants to submit reasons for their requests, which is not only contrary to international standards but also potentially places the burden of proof on the applicant.
- It lacks an override providing for the disclosure of even exempt information where this is in the overall public interest.
- Parliament and civil society groups should have greater input in appointing members of the National Information Commission.
- The National Information Commission should be given a wider promotional mandate to foster implementation of the law.

ARTICLE 19, FNJ and FF urge the Nepalese authorities to take steps to redress these problems, including through the adoption of regulations which provide for positive interpretation of the Right to Information Act.

The analysis is available in English at: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/analysis/nepal-rti-act.pdfand in Nepali at: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/analysis/nepal-rti-act-nepali.pdf
An unofficial English translation of the Right to Information Act is available at: http://www.article19.org/pdfs/laws/Nepal-RTI.pdf


ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression
6-8 Amwell Street
United Kingdom
info (@) article19.org
Fax:+44 20 7278 7660
Federation of Nepali Journalists
Media Village, Sinamangal
fnjnepal (@) mail.com.np
Fax:+977 1 4112785

IFEX members working in this country 2

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