Right to Information Ordinance, a milestone for Bangladesh
January 25, 2009, 8:22 pm
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RTI Ordinance in Bangladesh: Speakers tell seminar on Right to Know Day, 2008

Posted 29 September 2008 by bnnrc

in· Access to information · Asia/Pacific · access to information


Dhaka, Bangladesh

Speakers at a seminar on 28 September, 2008 called on all to extend cooperation in implementing the Right to Information (RTI) Ordinance 2008 for the greater benefit of the countrymen.

Welcoming the council of advisers’ approval to the much-awaited ordinance, they said there are several loopholes in the proposed ordinance, which need to be closed in order to ensure maximum disclosure of information.Newly floated Right to Information Forum organised the seminar titled ‘Right to Information: Why at this moment?’ at Brac Centre Inn in the city to mark the International Right to Know Day, which will be observed worldwide on September 28.

The right to information is a constitutional right backed by the UN and the approval of RTI Ordinance is a step towards realising this right, said Mahbubul Alam, a former information adviser who attended the programme as the chief guest.Pointing out that there are many loopholes in the proposed ordinance, he said the ordinance covers up to upazila level, not up to union parishad level.

“We will bring these points to the attention of the elected government,” he said, urging all to continue the movement for the right to information.Terming the right to know the mother of all rights, the speakers demanded that a provision protecting the whistleblowers be included in the RTI law.

AK Mohammad Hossain, joint secretary of the law ministry, said the RTI legislation should have nine guiding principles including maximum disclosure of information, obligation to publish information, open governance, restricting the exemption instances, facilitating access to information and protecting the whistleblowers.

Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh, moderated the seminar presided over by Shaheen Anam, convenor of RTI Forum and executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation which has been working for the enactment of the RTI act.“All of our efforts should now be aimed at proper implementation of the RTI ordinance so that general people benefit from it,” Shaheen Anam said and hoped that the next elected government will endorse the legislation in parliament.

After the ordinance is implemented, corruption will decline gradually and the transparency and accountability will help brighten the country’s image, she said.In his keynote paper, Barrister Tanjib-ul Alam said there are provisions in most existing laws, which support the right to information, but these provisions are not being used.Prof Asif Nazrul, Prof Nazrul Islam, chairman of University Grants Commission, and Badiul Alam Majumder of Shushashoner Jonney Nagorik also spoke at the seminar. Ref: The Daily Star

Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication(BNNRC) is a member of Right to Information Forum.

AHM. Bazlur Rahman-S21BR, Chief Executive Officer, Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication(BNNRC)
& Member, Strategy Council, UN-Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UN GAID), House: 13/1, Road:2, Shaymoli, Dhaka-1207 
Post Box: 5095, Dhaka 1205 Bangladesh, Phone: 88-02-9130750, 88-02-9138501, 1711881647 Fax: 88-02-9138501-105



RTI Ordinance 2008 Gazetted in Bangladesh

by Piyas Roy   30 November 2008


The Right to Information Ordinance, 2008 (RTI) came into effect with the government publishing a gazette notification Monday, on 20 October, 2008. However, people will have to wait 90 working days before they can use the law to get information.
Within the 90 working days, an information commission will be formed for proper execution of the law and resolving public complaints regarding information. All preparation for releasing
information under the law would be made within these 90 days.
Even though at first six security and intelligence agencies were kept outside the purview of the ordinance, the gazette shows eight agencies. The agencies are National Security Intelligence,  Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, Defence Intelligence Unit, Criminal Investigation Department of police, Special Security Force, intelligence cell of National Board of Revenue.
The Special Branch of Police and intelligence unit of Rapid Action Battalion were added later. However, if the information is related to corruption and violation of human rights in these agencies, they will have to provide the information within 30 days. The ordinance classifies information which may pose threat to the security,  Integrity and sovereignty of Bangladesh, obstruct law enforcement or incite any offence, endanger public security or impede due judicial process of a pending case, affect any criminal  Investigation, be prejudicial to the special rights of the Parliament, documents including summaries to be placed before the cabinet, or the council of advisers and information relating to discussions and decisions of such meetings. Within 60 days of promulgation of the ordinance all public, autonomous and statutory organisations and other private institutions run on government or foreign funding that have been brought under the new law will nominate an officer-in-charge for each of the unit to provide information. “Appointing authorised officers at government offices requires government orders. We will request all ministries in seven days to issue orders in this regard,” Information Secretary Jamil Osman told The Daily Star. The information ministry will form a five-member selection committee soon to recommend candidates for the job of chief information commissioner and information commissioners to the
president. It will recommend two candidates for each post.
“We will soon prepare our proposal for the selection committee and finalise it after getting the nod from government high-ups,” the information secretary said, adding that his ministry has
commenced a 12-week-long roadmap for implementing the ordinance. A judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, nominated by the chief justice, will head the selection committee that will also have the cabinet secretary as a member. The
Speaker of the parliament would nominate a member each from the treasury bench and the opposition bench and the government would nominate a representative of eminent citizens for the selection committee. The information commission will consist of a chief information commissioner and two commissioners, at least one of them will be a woman. It will have its headquarters in Dhaka
and in case of necessity would be able to establish offices  anywhere in Bangladesh. The information commission will lay down guidelines to be followed by the authorities for publication and publicity of information and obtaining information. Every authority shall prepare and publicize a list of information which will be supplied free of cost, the ordinance says. People will have to apply for information either in writing or through electronic media or
through email and will have to pay fees for applying and for the information where applicable.
However, the authorities may exempt an individual or a class of individuals or any other class from paying such fees. The government in consultation with the information commission and by notification in official gazette may fix the fees and if needed the price of information. The officer-in-charge of providing information upon receiving a request will provide the information within 20 working days. However, if more than one unit or authority is involved, the information will be provided within 30 working days.
If the officer-in-charge fails to provide the information, he will inform the applicant the causes in writing within 10 working days.
If the sought information is linked to life and death, arrest or  release from jail, the officer-incharge will provide the preliminary information within 24 hours. The council of advisers on September 20 gave the final approval to the RTI ordinance. Against the backdrop of a longstanding demand, the caretaker government took the initiative to formulate the RTI as part of its institutional reforms. After an eight-member government formed body prepared a primary draft in February, opinions from different stakeholders were sought before the information ministry submitted it to the cabinet on June 18 when it approved it in principle.