By Krishna Sapkota
Kathmandu, Sept 28 : A week-long citizen’s campaign for Right to Information concluded with the marking of the International Right to Know Day. The campaign had begun on September 22.
The day was marked by organizing a morning rally, mobile RTI clinic, information requests campaign and submission of memorandum to the prime minister for the implementation of constitutionally and legally guaranteed RTI laws.
A group of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), including Freedom Forum, has been marking the International Right to Information Day in Nepal on September 28 since over a decade.
Among the key objectives of the day are to elevate people’s awareness on right to information, demanding transparency and accountability on governance affairs and putting pressure on all public agencies to comply with the responsibility on proactively disclosing information and responding to information requests, said Sanjeeb Ghimire, a RTI campaigner.
The week-long celebration was marked by forming a ‘Citizen’s Campaign for Right to Information’ with the involvement of civil organizations and association.
More than 100 organizations, including Freedom Forum, GoGo Foundation, NGO Federation Nepal, Federation of Nepali Journalists, INSEC, SOCH Nepal, IRHICON, Media Advocacy Group, Samjhauta Nepal and Sharada Foundation from across the country took part in the celebration of the day as allies of the citizen’s campaign, shared Taranath Dahal, campaign coordinator.
Right to information is a fundamental human right which is guaranteed when citizens’ easy and unobstructed access to information held by public agencies is possible.
The 1990 Constitution of Nepal had enshrined right to information as the citizens’ fundamental right for the first time. Likewise, Article 27 of the Nepal Constitution-2015 has guaranteed the right as a fundamental right while the legal mechanism such as RTI Act-2007 and RTI Regulation-2009 and institutional mechanism such as National Information Commission have already put in place for its implementation.
‘Its successful implementation is not possible without proper information production, storage and responsible institutional measure as well as routine proactive disclosure of information – the oxygen of democratic governance’, said Dahal.
Goal 16.10 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)-2030 which was endorsed by the Nepal government has recognized the right to information as a yardstick towards attaining other global development goals.
The campaign has called for the government to make the existing RTI central coordination unit and central monitoring committee established at Prime Minister’s office and Communication Ministry functional, regularize disclosure of different 20 types of information of public agencies through website and other means and appointment of public information officers in all federal, state and local governments and public agencies for effective information management and disclosure, stated a press release issued by the campaign.
The CSOs also urged the government to end impunity by booking the chiefs and information officer of the public agency for not abiding by RTI provisions, set explicit indicators and standards as part for national strategy and action plan of SDG to implement its goal 16.10 and set up national mechanism to periodically review the status of access to information and take initiative to join the global initiative of Open Government Partnership and endorse its global declaration.
‘RTI campaigners are reeling under security threats mostly from public authorities including people-elected local representatives while requesting information related to governance so we call the government to guarantee safety of the RTI campaigners and whistleblowers’, said Sharada Bhusal Jha, a RTI and anti-corruption campaigner.
The campaign is making preparation to submit the memorandum containing aforementioned demands to the Prime Minister through the chief secretary, informed Posta KC from GoGo Foundation.