Facilitating the effective entrenchment of the right to access to information in member states and the institutions of the Commonwealth is one of the key aims of CHRI's RTI Program. To this end, CHRI is active not only in reviewing and commenting upon draft laws, but also in assisting like-minded organisations to exchange best practice and lessons learned. CHRI's advocacy in support of the right to information is primarily directed towards the Official Commonwealth, governments and key stakeholders in member states, as well as the citizens of the Commonwealth themselves.
Capacity Building (Learning Programmes)
“This learning visit opened up my knowledge on RTI into new vistas. It gave me the opportunity to gain hands on experience as to how RTI works at grass root level. My understanding of the RTI law was that it would help to minimize corruption in society and improve the efficiency of the public service. It was also my belief that RTI is a weapon in the hands of the educated middle class and the media and as a basic human right. This visit helped me to correct my thinking and learn how even the uneducated, under privileged people accessed RTI through innovative methods.”
-Shyamila Perera, IDL, Sri Lanka
For Shyamila, as for many of the other participants, CHRI’s learning programme becomes a stepping stone to put together effective Right to Information legislation in her country. Delegates from several countries in South Asia annually come to CHRI’s Headquarters in New Delhi, to learn from our team of RTI experts. Having played a major role in successfully realising Access to Information laws in India and Bangladesh, these programmes allow us to put our expertise into service in other countries.
Comparative Law Research
CHRI regularly monitors developments across Commonwealth member States for news of RTI law drafting processes. Given its reputation CHRI is often approached by both Governments and civil society organisations for assistance with the process of writing up the provisions of their RTI legislation. In addition to being deeply involved in the law-making exercise in several countries CHRI has contributed to the process of developing model ATI legislation for the Commonwealth and the African Union. For a snapshot view on the salient features of ATI laws across the Commonwealth
In India, CHRI has been deeply involved in strategic litigation with the purpose of making public information that public authorities are unwilling to share for no justifiable reason. CHRI is slowly but surely chipping away at the mindset of official secrecy by litigating for the disclosure of the agenda and notes put up for the meetings of the Union Cabinet, monthly summaries of work done by government departments, public funds spent for security purposes and crucial information essential for holding public servants accountable for compliance with court directives or the human rights violations they have committed. CHRI’s pathbreaking work and success in these endeavours has inspired many citizens and groups across the country to demand similar information related to their own spheres of work
CHRI frequently publishes and disseminates guidance notes and papers for the use of governments and public authorities for implementing ATI laws. CHRI also prepares and circulates briefing papers for policy makers on draft legislation that have a bearing on transparency and accountability on topics such as anti-corruption mechanisms and whistleblower protection in India and other parts of the Commonwealth