The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative’s Access to Information Programme based in New Delhi has urged Sri Lankans to use the fundamental right to information guaranteed under Article 14A of the Constitution and obtain information pertaining to the Sampur Power Project.
“This case should also be an eyeopener for RTI advocates in Sri Lanka. Clause 5(1)(d) of the RTI Bill tabled in Parliament contains a provision that mirrors Section 8(1)(d) of India’s RTI Act regarding “commercial confidence”. This clause should not misused to prevent basic information about issues like power projects from flowing to the people. If not the people, who else are these power projects meant for? Second, Clause 5(4) of Sri Lanka’s RTI Bill requires all information about inconclusive overseas trade agreements to be kept secret endlessly. The public interest override provision contained in Clause 5(3) does not apply to such matters. So this Clause will also be used to deny information about agreements being negotiated by Sri Lanka Government with foreign entities. It would be interesting to learn about the CEB/TPCL’s response to formal information requests in Sri Lanka,” said Venkatesh Nayak, Programme Coordinator of the Access to Information Programme.More