TI Bangladesh today celebrated the International Right to Know (RTK) Day by calling upon the government to effectively implement the proactive disclosures policy across all government offices. It also urged the government to refrain from formulating laws and policies that contradict the true spirit of Right to Information (RTI) Act 2009.
Observing that people are still largely unaware about the RTI Act 2009 even after six years of its enactment, Dr. Zaman in a statement to media today urged the authorities to update their websites by furnishing proactively disclosed information. Expressing concern that the true ideals of the Act, which was supposed to promote the constitutional right to freedom of expression, has been short-circuited by several harsher provisions as contained in the National Broadcasting Policy, Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act and the draft Cyber Security Act. He urged the government to refrain from further curtailing the basic tenants of the freedom of speech and expression as contained in the RTI Act 2009.
Meanwhile, as part of it celebration, TIB also orgainsed a series of public awareness, voice and demand campaigns throughout the country for enforcement of people’s right to information, which centered around the day's theme: Janbo Janabo, Durnity Rukhbo (We want to know, We will let others know – we will prevent corruption). The Committees of Concerned Citizens (CCCs) and the Youth Engagement & Support (YES) groups working with TIB organised information fairs in several locations of the country. With full support of the local administration, which was made possible after TIB's sustained advocacy with the Cabinet Division, both government and non-government organizations set up stalls in information fairs. YES members also trained the enthusiastic visitors, mostly youth, on how to file request for information using the official format. TIB's pioneering RTI Fairs, which proved to be a powerful medium of strengthening both the demand and supply side in implementing RTI Act, are now being replicated by some NGOs.
The RTK Day campaign events in TIB's 45 project locations also included rallies, human chains, street theatres, advice and information desks, cultural programmes, seminars, discussion meetings and cartoon exhibitions.
For wider dissemination of the demand for people’s right to information, TIB's four television commercials on health, education, local government and climate finance were broadcast for three days during prime time from 26-28 September on two popular television channels, while similar messages are also being broadcast by 15 community radio stations of the country. In addition, a large number of RTK-related cartoon stickers and posters were disseminated across the country to popularize the public's demand for information.
As part of its celebration, TI Bangladesh, in association with Anti-Corruption Commission, organised a day-long capacity-building programmes on 13 September for ACC's all Designated Information Officers (DIOs). The national programme, organised by Information Commission, supported by TI Bangladesh and RTI Forum, will be held on 4 October where Information Minister is expected to outline the government's efforts to promote people's right to information.
It may be mentioned here that TIB played a pivotal role in the enactment of the Right to Information Act 2009 adopted in the Parliament on 29 March 2009, which became operational in July 2009. TIB has been observing the RTK Day since 2006, the first organization to do so in Bangladesh. Earlier, from 2003, TIB started a local level campaign called Advice & Information Desk to inform the members of the public about their basic rights and entitlement. As part of its RTI advocacy, TIB in 2014 urged for government’s official recognition of RTK Day and observe it nationally.