Kathmandu, Sept 28:
On the special occasion of 12th International Right to Know Day-2014. Today Freedom of information organizations and advocates around the world are celebrating the day with activities to raise awareness of the Right to Information or RTI. Realizing the importance of information in Nepal too, organizations of RTI practitioners and advocates are marking the day by organizing several activities to highlight its importance and remind stakeholders of their obligation for effective implementation of the right to information.
In order to bring the changes in the day-to-day life of unattended, poor and disadvantaged people the nascent movement of Nepal’s Right to Information (RTI) has passed through a spate of landmark achievements; however it is yet to reach to the target groups. The movement had presumably begun to explore a sustainable solution to deficit governance and democracy provided improved access to information as a right enables citizens to demand evidence-based accountability and engage in the decision-making process.
An RIT expert, Dr Ram Krishna Timalsena said,”The current implementation of the RTI legislation is moderate which is somehow obvious in the formative days. The information request, a crucial and constructive act to pile pressure for its implementation, has been confined to a handful of development workers and activists”. One of the important promises of RTI is to change the landscape of supply-driven traditional governance model. However, it still needs to go a long way to put citizens at the centre stage of governance. The legislative and institutional mechanism of the RTI is already in place accompanied with growing realization of its essence and emergence but it has not been realized and practiced as a governing policy of the public agency.
The RTI legislation has opened up people’s access to publicly important information that could largely affect their lives but in practice they are weak and helpless.He noted, “For the RTI to deliver its promised results, it should be reached out to the target people who are really suffering due to bad practices of governance, poor service delivery and deep-rooted culture of secrecy”, RTI activist Taranath Dahal added, “The right to information law has enabled every citizen with a powerful weapon to demand accountability and proactive transparency from public bodies. With the RTI law in place, the power has been shifted to the citizens but it depends on the use”
Nodanath Trital, an RTI campaigner, who has so far registered 500 information expressed his views as,”There is no real awareness among public at local level to go through the information request process. Likewise, the frontline government nodal officers are also not much aware about the process to provide information in line with the Act”, RTI is a tool to make democracy function since its use engages both information providers and requesters. . The making of ‘information culture’ requires mutual accountability of demand side and supply side so collaborative approach is imperative to sustain the movement and distribute its fruits to the larger section. It becomes further effective when it touches the base of the poor and disadvantaged people of the country. The decentralization of information with RTI legislation in place has expanded its scope of information-enabled participatory governance at the local level as well.