A new Analysis by the Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) of the latest proposed Right to Information (RTI) Law reveals a relatively robust draft but with some shortcomings. The RTI Law, which will allow citizens to obtain information from public bodies, is key in any democracy, enhancing government accountability and improving trust between government and the people.
“It is encouraging that Myanmar is moving forward on this important issue, which will help it in its democratic transition,” said Toby Mendel, Executive, CLD. “We hope that when the law is placed before parliament they will be open to making changes to improve it further. Our work on this continues by working with media organisations and civil society organisations for which this law will be essential.”
The draft RTI law was released in late December 2017. When adopted, Myanmar will join the nearly 120 countries around the world that have RTI legislation, although the draft has not yet been placed before parliament. The Analysis was prepared by CLD with the support of International Media Support (IMS) and Fojo Media Institute.
The Analysis points to both “easy wins”, changes which are relatively easy to make, and ‘important gains’, changes that are important but which may either encounter more opposition or require a bit more effort. Some of the key points are:
- The law should make it clear that it covers all bodies created by statute as well as bodies which are owned, controlled or substantially funded by public bodies.
- The law should include a list of categories of information that every public body must, at a minimum, publish proactively.
- The procedures for lodging and processing requests should be substantially strengthened.
- A public interest override should be added to the law, so that information covered by an exception would still be disclosed where this was in the overall public interest.
- The law should include at least a general framework for the processing of appeals.
- A clause on whistleblower protection should be added to the law.
We urge the parliament of Myanmar to consider the recommendations in our Analysis with a view to bringing the draft Law more fully into line with international standards.
The Analysis is available at: Myanmar: Analysis of Draft Right to Information Law
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